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This website is related to the Curtis Institute of Music's 201011 all-school study, the Paris Project.
Ballet found a home on the stage of the Paris Opéra, both within opera productions and on its own. As in opera, it embraced French-born and foreign composers, Neo-Classicism and modernism, andparticularly through scenic and costume designs by the likes of Picasso and MatisseCubism and Surrealism. Plus, ballet was infused with the aesthetic ideas of Jean Cocteau. The principal impresario was the Russian Sergei Diaghilev, with his company, Ballets Russes. Among his choreographers were Bronislava Nijinska and Georges Balanchine.
Before World War I, Diaghilev found success in Paris by drawing on his Russian roots with works such as Boris Godunov, followed by a blend of opera and ballet. His work attracted artists as designers and contemporary composers, including Igor Stravinsky, with whom he would collaborate on L'ousieau de fue (The Firebird), Petrushka, and, in 1914, Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), which sparked a riot.
The Ballets Russes: Costume Exhibit video, including footage of the troupe (National Gallery of Australia, 10:14)Back to top
After the war, new works emerged alongside familiar repertoire. Diaghilev's company, Ballets Russes, returned to Paris at the end of 1919 with a program that included a world premiere ballet to a suite from Stravinsky's opera Le Chant du rossignol. Henri Matisse designed the scenery and costumes, invoking the Ming Dynasty setting of the original tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Choreography was by Léonide Massine. In 1925 Balanchine joined the Ballets Russes and created fresh choreography for the same composition, reducing Matisse's costumes and props.
WATCH: Le Chant du rossignol Ballet Reconstruction (1999) from Millicent Hodson (26:20).
Diaghilev's other Paris productions in the 1920s, before his death in 1929 in Venice, were these:
Russian Ballet History website
New York Times slideshow from "A Legend of Ballet," a New York Public Library exhibit on DiaghilevBack to top
PRINT AND ELECTRONIC RESOURCES ON INTERWAR PARIS AND THE ARTS
Grove Music Online, The Oxford Companion to Music, and The Oxford Dictionary of Music
Jackson, Jeffrey H., Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (Durham: Duke UP, 2003)
Mann, Carol, Paris: Artistic Life in the Twenties and Thirties (London: Laurence King, 1996)
Nichols, Roger, The Harlequin Years: Music in Paris 19171929 (Berkeley: UCalifornia P, 2002)
Shack, William A., Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars (Berkeley: UCalifornia P, 2001)