diaghilev and the ballets russes


i started working at the national endowment for the arts a couple of weeks ago, and so far i've learned a ton and am really enjoying my work.  aside from the job itself, it's been very novel to be working downtown.  during lunch one day of my first week, i walked to the natural history museum to check out a photography exhibit, oh you know, natural history museum, just during my lunch break :)  i can see the capitol from my building and everyhing is literally a 5 minute walk away.  if you're going to move to dc, you may as well work for the government right in the middle of everything, right?!

this past week we had a very cool field trip to the national gallery of art's east building (modern art).  they have an exhibit going on until october 6th called Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music.  the show tells the story of the original russian ballet under the leadership of Serge Diaghilev.  i knew of the russian ballet and their performance of stravinsky's rite of spring, and i knew they were known for using contemporary music in their shows.  i had absolutely no idea how inclusive they were of music and art contemporaries in their performances, and that they were so forward thinking in all of thier costuming and dance techniques.
just look at the artists that collaborated with diaghilev and the ballet over only ten years: stravinsky, prokofiev, erik satie, debussy, rimsky-korsakov, picasso, matisse, coco chanel (ha!)
^^original rite of spring costumes!^^ (via)
blue train costume
 ^^costumes for the blue train by chanel^^ (via)
song of the nightingale costume
^^costume for the song of the nightingale by matisse^^ (via)
a co-worker in my division is friends with one of the curators of this exibit and she met up with us to give us a behind the scenes guided tour.  i loved hearing about everything from the preservation of the original costumes to who decided to paint a big blue wave on the wall of the space.  overall, i have to say they did a beautiful job with the presentation.  if you have any interest at all in the history of dance, ballet, music, theatre, or visual arts (or history in general), i would make sure to check out this exhibit. it's so well done and so entertaining that you don't even realize how much you've learned until you leave.

my favorite video installations were of baryshnikov dancing (i could watch him dance all day long) and rudolph nureyev playing the faun in the afternoon of a faun. (video here)
^^original costume design for the faun by bakst^^ (via)
^^because yes^^
the museum has set up a small, temporary shop right as you exit the exhibit.  i die for museum shops and couldn't resist this little hand-painted turkish bowl. 
loved this exhibit and highly recommend it!

note: any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity.


  1. Neat! What a way to spend your lunch break :)
    Except the bowl actually looks Turkish to me... at least the design/colors/motifs and the way it's painted (style). I have about 5 of them in various sizes that I brought from different trips to Turkey before. They are hard to resist indeed! So beautifully made. I just wish I could wash them in the microwave :) hehe

    1. Thank you!! You're right, it's definitely Turkish, I updated it :) They are so pretty, I wanted to buy 10 of them. Maybe it's time to plan a trip to Turkey!


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