Ballet-nerds, rejoice! A video of what is strongly considered Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes has been discovered by London-based curator Jane Pritchard, who was responsible for the recent exhibition "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes" at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
At the 25th hour, as the exhibit, which closed Jan 9, is actively being pulled from the museum's walls, a member of the London Ballet Circle contacted Pritchard after seeing her at a recent event with news that she had stumbled upon footage of what could be the elusive Ballet Russes. After much research, Pritchard has come to the conclusion that, indeed, footage of this storied company exists.
The Ballet Russes performed between 1909 and 1929 on some of the world's most prestigious stages under director Sergei Diaghilev. Important to the history of ballet for manifold reasons, the Ballet Russes featured dancers and choreographers who went on to have illustrious careers including such legends as Marius Pepita and George Balanchine.
That this footage exists is exciting to any ballet-lover, because it is the first of its kind. As curator Pritchard says in her recent blog post about the discovery, she's "eating her words" that the company had never been filmed (a widely held truth). Until now, we had to make do with paintings of the dancers and grainy photographs.
Watch the incredible video here. The footage shows the corps de ballet dancing behind a trio (and then a solo dancer) on an outdoor stage in an unknown, mountainous area. It is short, yes, and silent, too, but well worth the minute for the gorgeous history it imparts.
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