The Ballets Russes in Monaco: a great revolution in dance

Publication date: 3/25/2009
How the innovative spirit of the Ballets Russes made a radical change in classical dance. The arrival of Sergei de Diaghilev in Monaco split the history of dancing into two key eras: "before" and "after".
The rise of the Ballets Russes spelled the beginning of an era of new perception in the field of dance. After decades of dreary ballets at the Opera audiences suddenly discovered magical new concepts in dance and striking innovations in rhythm and color, in productions marked by a previously unknown concern for lavish detail.
Classical dance opened doors to new forms of expression where emotional qualities replaced a merely entertaining approach to art. Whereas athletic prowess had been its guideline, dance now became a realm of sensitivity and sensuality eliciting strong emotions among its audiences.
Another aspect was the emergence of the corps de ballet: after years in a traditional supporting role alongside featured star soloists, large ensembles were suddenly thrust into the limelight by ever more inventive choreographies. But the Ballet Russe's unique feature was the close collaboration it established between musicians, choreographers and painters… many of whom were the greatest performers and artists of the day. In the words of Michel Fokine: "Ballet must reflect a unified concept and move away from its traditional music-and-dance structure to a new one involving music, dance and the plastic arts."
Under the guidance of impresario Sergei de Diaghilev highly gifted costume designers and painters created a wealth of masterpieces. His personal touch inspired sensitivity and sophistication in all the arts… dance, music, painting, theater, etc… and initiated an era of brilliant ballet productions.