The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra is currently showing off its vast and extraordinary collection of Ballets Russes costumes; you have to hurry though, it closes in March. While we can’t quite match the spectacle on offer there, we do have a very good collection of material which you can use to explore the history and impact of this most important 2oth century artistic phenomenon.
This documentary was an unlikely smash hit on its initial theatrical release with its astonishing wealth of archival material, interviews, filmclips and good old fashioned theatre gossip.
This is the lavish catalogue of a major exhibition from Monte Carlo in 2009, celebrating the centenary of the company with photographs, designs, letters and documents. Monte Carlo remains an important place for the Ballets Russes as it was there that the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo was formed from the original Diaghilev troupe. They famously toured Australia in 1939/40, leaving behind artists such as Edouard Borovansky, who went on to sew the seeds for our own Australian Ballet; talk about six degrees of separation, or even closer!
Firebird and other legends: The Australian Ballet ; A thousand encores, The Ballets Russes in Australia (DVD)
The Australian Ballet performs Fokine’s original choreography for two of the Ballets Russes’ most famous works, Les Sylphide and Petrouchka, as well as Graeme Murphy’s reimagining of The Firebird. There is also a really lovely documentary about the visit to Australia of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, and the seismic impact that had on the entire cultural scene of the country.
From costumes to stage sets to posters to fashion, the impact of the Ballets Russes on the world of design is almost inestimable, and still being felt today.
Check our catalogue for lots more, including some marvellous photographs from our Picture Collection, such as this one of Algeranoff in Le Coq d’Or.