Ballet Russe – a rare piece of footage

Diaghilev’s greatest achievement was his dance company – the Ballets Russes. Created a century ago, the productions of the Ballets Russes revolutionised early 20th-century arts and continue to influence cultural activity today.

The virtuosity and charisma of Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950) were such that no one who saw him perform, it was claimed, ever forgot him. He transformed himself for each role he danced. Jean Cocteau was so impressed by seeing the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky perform with the Ballets Russes that he met Sergei Diaghilev, and asked to work with him. Cocteau designed posters for the Ballets Russe, and in 1917 he was one of the collaborators on the ballet Parade: Cocteau wrote the story, Erik Satie composed the music, LĂ©onide Massine choreographed the dance and Picasso designed the set and costumes.

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