August Macke. Ballets Russes, 1912. Kunsthalle, Bremen. Public domain via Wikimedia.

study days

Serge Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

  • Thursday 15 September 2022
  • Lettsom House, First Floor, 11 Chandos Street, London W1G 9EB (NB: There is no lift in this building)
  • Lecturer: Jane Pritchard

2022 marks 150 years since the birth of Diaghilev whose Ballets Russes transformed the art world at the start of the twentieth century. The programme looks at this influential animateur and his galaxy of stars from the worlds of art, music and dance.

Lecture One:  ‘The World of Art’ and the art world Diaghilev would change       
The first lecture looks at Serge Diaghilev’s life and passions before establishing the Ballets Russes and the art world he was about to transform.

Lecture Two:   From Art Nouveau to the avant-garde, 1909-1914         
The session looks at the birth of the Ballets Russes when Mikhail Fokine and Vaslav Nijinsky and others revolutionised dance and its music. The productions evolved from the jewel-like colours of Léon Bakst’s designs to the acidic palette of Natalia Goncharova.

Lecture Three:   European Modernism turns to dance, 1915-1921       
In 1919 Diaghilev created new ballets designed by the greatest artists of the day – Pablo Picasso, André Derain and Henri Matisse. The period reveals the Ballets Russes at its most conservative and its most experimental.

Lecture Four:   The search for novelty, 1922-29
The last decade included the masterpieces Les Noces and Apollon Musagète. Alongside were ballets that captured the mood of the 1920s designed by Georgio de Chirico, Naum Gabo, Pedro Pruna, Pavel Tchelitchev and Coco Chanel.


 Jane Pritchard has been Curator for Dance at the V&A, London, since 2006. Previously she established archives for Rambert, English National Ballet and London Contemporary Dance Theatre. She has curated seasons of dance films, presented on radio and television, contributed to numerous publications and she was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the 2014 New Year’s Honours.

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