Dance, Music and Theatre

Auditors of the courses on Mastery of Stage Productions.
Схемы к изучению спектакля.
[Diagrams for the Study of a Play.]

Petersburg: “Narkompros”, 1919.

The book on exhibit is a product of the experimental theatre in Russia, as shown by the fact that it was dedicated to and contained an Afterword by Vsevolod Emil’evich Meyerhold, 1874-1940, the leading avant-garde director at the time of the Revolution. Displayed is the eleventh diagram, which indicates positions of the actors, stage design, and movement in the production.

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Nikolaĭ Nikolaevich Evreinov, 1879-1953.
Крепостные актеры.
[Serf Actors.]
Second revised edition.
Leningrad: “Kubuch”, 1925.

This book discusses the history of the theater performed by serfs, and the actors who performed in them. Evreinov was an innovative director who saw the theater as an instinctual extension of man and the stage as a vehicle for human expression.


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Teatral [pseud. of S. V. Tanieev].
Из прошлaго императорских театров 1825-1856.
[From the Past of the Imperial Theaters 1825-1856.]
Illustrations by V. Masiutin.
Saint Petersburg: V. V. Komarov, 1886.


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Vlas Mikhailovich Doroshevich, 1864-1922.
Старая театральная Москва.
[Old Theatrical Moscow.]

Petrograd and Moscow: Petrograd, 1923.

Theater played a very important role in the lives of the intelligentsia, both in St Petersburg and Moscow, as can be seen in this title and the one above. Even as early as 1886, the history of this dual tradition was valued enough for it to be recorded in this history of the Imperial Theaters. Despite the shift in political correctness in 1923, the theatrical history of Moscow was similarly documented and published.


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Igor’ Glebov [pseud. of Boris Vladimirovich Asafiev], 1884-1949, et al.
Игорь Стравинский и его балет “Пулчинелла”.
[Igor Stravinsky and his Ballet “Pulchinella”.]

Leningrad: Academia, 1926.

Igor Stravinsky, who composed eight scores for the Ballets russes during its early years, was one of several composers in whom Diaghilev saw exciting new talent. The book shown contains articles on one such ballet, “Pulchinella.”


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Souvenir Serge de Diaghileff’s Ballet Russe.
With Originals by Léon Bakst and Others.
New York: Metropolitan Ballet Company, Inc., 1916.

Avoiding the years of turmoil in Europe and Russia, Diaghilev, with the assistance of Otto Kahn, arranged for Ballets russes to tour the United States in 1916-17. By this time Fokine had left the company and Nijinsky had become principal choreographer. Displayed is a Souvenir from that tour.


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Ekaterina Ottovna Vazem, 1848-1937.
Записки балерины Санкт-Петербургского Большого театра.
[Notes of a Ballerina from the Saint Petersburg Bol’shoῐ Theater.]

Moscow: Art, 1937.

One of the stars of the St. Petersburg Bol’shoi Theater and ultimately a prima ballerina, Vazem began her career when Russian ballet was developing its strengths in both dance and choreography, dancing from 1867 to 1884. She premiered the role of Nikyia in “La Bayadére,” and was an early teacher of Pavlova. Later she experienced a revolution in art and theater at the turn of the century, political disintegration of Imperial Russia, and the October revolution in 1917. Her long life both in Imperial and Soviet Russia provides a unique perspective, as reflected in this book.


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Pavel Ivanovich Novitskiĭ, 1888-1964?.
Образы актеров.
[Images of Actors.]

Leningrad: Art, 1941.
Portrait of Solomon Mikhaĭlovich Mikhoėls, 1890-1948.

Novitskii’s book, a biographical survey of Russian actors, contains (among others) the biography of Mikhoels, who was a successful actor during the Soviet period. He was also the head of the State Jewish Theater and chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. He championed the rights of Jews who wished to return to their homeland after World War II, but was killed by the Secret Police in 1948.


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Akim L’vovich Volynskiĭ, 1863-1926.
Книга ликований: азбука классического танца.
[Book of Forms of Expression: the ABCs of Classical Dance.]

Leningrad: Choreographic Technical School, 1925.

Although the Russian theater underwent major changes in the early twentieth century, classical instruction still played an important role in dance. Even as late as 1925 fundamentals of physical positions and facial and physical expressions were clearly defined and illustrated in books such as this.


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Andreĭ Nikolaevich Rimskiĭ-Korsakov, 1878-1940, editor.
Музыкальная летопись.
[Musical Chronicle.]

Petrograd: "Thought”, 1922.

Andrei Rimsky-Korsakov, son of the famous composer, edited a journal entitled Musical Chronicle containing articles by some of the major figures in Russian music. Issues 1 and 2 contain a biography of the composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka as well as a report on the “Berlin Season.” Other articles include one on Clara Schumann in Russia and another on Camille Saint-Saëns (translated from the French).


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Aleksandr Alekseevich Pleshcheev, 1858-1944.
Нашъ балетъ: 1673-1899.
[Our Ballet: 1673-1899.]

Saint Petersburg: O. A. Pereiaslavtsev and A. A. Pleshcheev, 1899.

This is a comprehensive history of Russian Ballet. Although other companies and theaters existed, the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg was considered to be the best. When the Imperial Ballet moved to the Mariinsky Theater, it adopted that name and became the Mariinsky Ballet. During the Soviet period it was renamed the Kirov Ballet, but returned to its pre-Soviet name, Mariinsky Ballet, after 1989. The Mariinsky had many talented and famous dancers, some of whom performed in Ballets russes as well. After the Revolution, forty percent of the Russian dancers emigrated. Their impact on the ballet of Europe and the United States was more than significant.

The cloth cover with a woven design was contemporary with the publication.


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Arsène Alexandre, 1859-1937
Lev Samoilovich Rozenberg (pseud. Léon Bakst), 1866-1924.
The Decorative Art of Leon Bakst.
London: Fine Art Society, 1913.

The costume designs for the Ballets Russes by Bakst incorporated Turkish, Indian, and Persian motifs in ways that had not been attempted before. Their colors, patterns, and unstructured designs were innovative and eye-catching. This book takes advantage of this popularity, containing an introduction written by Jean Cocteau and Bakst’s hand-painted renderings of costumes and set designs, almost all for Ballets Russes.

Bakst's Costume Designs for the characters:

Firebird from The Firebird

Tsarevich from The Firebird

Red Sultana from Scheherazade

Iskander from “La Péri”

Bakst’s Set Design for: Orientales


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Walter Archibald Propert.
The Russian Ballet in Western Europe: 1909-1920.
Photograph of Vaslav Nijinsky.
London: The Bodley Head, 1921.

This photograph was taken from Propert’s book about Russian ballet in Europe, including Ballets russes. Nijinsky began dancing at the Mariinsky Theater, and joined Ballets russes as principal dancer in 1909. By then his partners had included Kschessinskaya, Pavlova, and Karsavina and he had already performed before the tsar. In Ballets russes he and Fokine created many of the roles that earned him the nickname “the god of dance.” He began choreographing in 1912, and soon became Chief Choreographer.


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Aleksandr Alekseevich Pleshcheev, 1858-1944.
Нашъ балетъ: 1673-1899.
[Our Ballet: 1673-1899.]

Saint Petersburg: O. A. Pereiaslavtsev and A. A. Pleshcheev, 1899.
Photographs of four dancers.



Olga Iosifovna Preobrazhenskaia

Trained at the Imperial Ballet School, Preobrazhenskaia studied with Petipa and Legat, joined the Mariinsky in 1889, and became prima ballerina in 1900. She toured Europe extensively in the first decade of the 1900s, taught briefly in Soviet Russia, but then moved to Paris, where she taught at the Studio Wacker until 1960. Her students included Dame Margot Fonteyn and dancers from Ballets russes de Monte Carlo.


Vera Gustavovna Legat

Sister of the Legat brothers, she came from a “ballet family,” including their father, mother, and several siblings. Vera, however, was not a very accomplished dancer and left the ballet.


Mathilda-Maria Feliksovna Kshesinskaia

Kshesinskaia studied at the Imperial Ballet School and joined tha Mariinsky in 1890. By 1895 she was awarded the title ”prima ballerina absoluta,” given to only one other dancer in the Imperial Ballet. In 1911-12 she danced with Ballets russes, partnering with Nijinsky. She was a close friend of the imperial family, and married Tsar Nicholas’s cousin. In 1920 she moved to France, and taught there until the 1950s. One of her students was Dame Margot Fonteyn.


Marie M. Petipa

The daughter of Marius Ivanovich Petipa, Marie Petipa was trained by her father and joined the Imperial Ballet, debuting in 1875. See also the caricature of her in the Satire section of the exhibit.


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Victor Dandré.

Anna Pavlova.
London: Cassell, 1932.
Reproductions of four photographs of Anna Pavlova, 1881-1931, as a young dancer.

Anna Pavlova studied at the Mariinsky, and joined the ballet theater, studying with Legat, Petipa, and others. By 1907 she was what we would call a “star.” She was briefly associated with Ballets russes, but then, spurred by her need for creative independence, toured on her own for the remainder of her career. Her artistry and her extensive travels made her the most famous ballerina in the world.


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Nikolaĭ Avdeevich Otsup, 1894-1958, editor.

Paris and Petropolis: Dom knigi, 1930-1940.
Volume 10 (1934): Set Design for “Le Coq D’Or” by Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova.

Volume 5 (1931): Set Design for “Soleil de Nuit” by Mikhaĭl Fedorovich Larionov.

Two Russian proponents of a form of cubism known as rayonism, Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, worked for Ballets russes beginning in 1914 and continuing through 1929. Displayed here are reproductions of two of their set designs for Diaghilev, taken from a Russian émigré journal.


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Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov, 1881-1964.
Letter to Natal’ia Sergeevna Goncharova, Monte Carlo, April 30, 1921. Manuscript, with envelope.

Larionov and Goncharova were partners and collaborators on projects, but also worked separately. In 1921 Larionov was in Monte Carlo, and Goncharova was in Paris, working for Diaghilev. Shown here is a letter from “Misha” Larionov, advising “Talinka” on the costuming components which were still needed for the upcoming ballet production. He also expresses optimism concerning the success of their latest work, given no interference from Diaghilev.