Serge Diaghilev (1872–1929) was an extraordinarily gifted impresario, curator, director and animator of the arts. He was perfectly at home in the wave of creative energy that pushed theatrical performance to the forefront of the arts in the early twentieth century – and perfectly placed to export Russian culture to Western Europe.
Active in Europe and America between 1909 and 1929, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company expanded the frontiers of theatre. Many of its acclaimed productions were true collaborations, examples of gesamtkunstwerk (unified works of art) that continue to capture the imagination of audiences a century later.
This beautiful book takes advantage of new research and draws on little-seen collections at the V&A to look at his life, his work, his cultural milieu and,most importantly, the actual processes of creating a ballet while working with some of the foremost creative thinkers of the period.
Jane Pritchard is Curator of Dance for the Theatre & Performance Collections at the V&A. Geoffrey Marsh is Director of Theatre & Performance Collections at the V&A.