I'm currently fighting the dreary Wintertime blues out here in our country cottage in NY—missing the California sunshine I grew-up with. So, in desperate need of colorful inspiration, I decided to re-visit the stunning documentary on the Ballets Russes (which you can view streaming here). On a grey and rainy day, like today, it's like a gold gilded treasure chest full of chromatic beauty, not only about dance, but all aspects of passion and creativity.
Above; Prima ballerina Mia Slavenska and a publicity photo of herself, taken in the 1930s. Below; two of Slavenska's characters, displaying her chamelion-like nature as a performer.
It's fabulous to see the original prima ballerinas still sassing it up, most of whom are dancing right on through their octo/nonagenarian years. How great they all look, and how vibrantly their spirits sparkle, is a testament to the grace and character one builds through a life of movement. Having taken years of ballet as a child (fueled by the movie Fame, and an early Chorus Line obsession), I sadly hung up my toe shoes in my late-teens, but watching this doc has reignited my love, and is responsible for my Ballet Beautiful membership. It's also dear to my heart, as it entertained me while recovering from a painful surgery years ago. While stuck in bed, I found it streaming on Netflix, and go absolutely lost in the Technicolor costumes (several designed by Matisse), mind-bogglingly innovative set design (mostly designed by Léon Bakst), and of course, the dancing, which is like watching the most heavenly dream.
Above; A stunning, surrealistic program for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, c.1950s (possibly designed by Dali?). Below; two looks at the adorable Nathalie Krassovska.
The Ballets Russes has long been an inspiration to countless designers and artists throughout the years; designers and artists like Galliano, Anna Sui, and Sarah Sophie Flicker of The Citizens Band, have each taken cues from the deco folkloric styles of the costumes and sets. I'll soon post photos I took during a visit to the magical Dance Museet in Stockholm, where my heart pirouetted like crazy over several original 1920s Ballet Russe costumes.
Above; Salvador Dali's program for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's production of Labyrinth, c.1940-41. Below; the company was home to some of the history's most celebrated dancers, including Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova, as pictured here.
If you'd like to dive deep into the story of the Ballets Russe, I recommend reading this wonderful book about the eccentric Russian impresario, Sergei Diaghilev, director and creator of this legendary company.