Sunday, 26 September 2010


'He is like a butterfly, but at the same time he is the epitome of manliness and youthful beauty. The ballerinas, who are just as beautiful, are completely eclipsed by him.'

'When he danced Spectre he was the very perfume of the rose because in everything he extracted the essence.'

Oh, oh, oh ... what can I say about the V&A's Ballets Russes exhibition except that I spent three hours there this afternoon, absolutely entranced. If only I could take a day trip back in time and see a performance. Would I pick the beautiful Nijinsky in Le Spectre de la Rose? (And he was beautiful, like a faun, I hadn't realised quite how lovely he was until I saw the sculpture of his head.) Or Tamara Karsavina dancing Firebird? (Though I chuckled at the cartoon of Mr Punch's spoof ballet Les Suffragistes starring M. Asquithoff and the Corps de Ballot.)
It was easy to see how Diaghilev set the world aflame with his Ballets Russes. What an explosion of colour and music and art. I saw costumes by Bakst and the biggest Picasso in the world and Lydia Lopokova dancing in a frothy little can-can number designed by Derain.
And there is even something for the knitters ... two wonderful woolly swimsuits designed by Chanel for the ballet Le Train Bleu. (For dancing, or posing but not, I think, for getting wet.)

You need at least three hours to see this spectacular exhibition; I hadn't realised how big it was, so I'll be going back for another look.

6 comments:

Rachel (Book Snob) said...

I worked on this exhibition and was sad not to be able to see it open. Aren't the costumes fantastic?! You lucky thing getting to see it - take some photos for me if you can!

mary said...

I must get myself a new camera, Rachel - mine is ancient! How frustrating that you left before you could see this. It was fantastic, all of it ... the costumes, the posters, the films, those stunning front cloths. I can't imagine any modern performances that could be anything like so exciting.

Darlene said...

Knitted swimsuits!!! People would be coming out of the water hanging on to...well, everything! Oh dear.

mary said...

I'm sure they were sweaty and uncomfortable to dance in, Darlene. But knitted swimsuits were all the rage, ask your granny ... and there were some very embarrassing incidents when they were waterlogged!

skirmishofwit said...

I'm going to try to go to this over the weekend. I'm so excited! It sounds amazing. I think I'll definitely be returning a few times too! Miranda

mary said...

I had to rush through the last section, Miranda, but it's well worth a second visit.