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From the publisher
A freshly researched and challenging reassessment of a unique phenomenon, exploring passionate conflicts and outsize personalities in a story embracing triumph and disaster.
Serge Diaghilev was the Russian impresario who is often said to have invented the modern art form of ballet. Commissioning such legendary names as Nijinsky, Fokine, Stravinsky, and Picasso, this intriguingly complex genius produced a series of radically original art works that had a revolutionary impact throughout the western world.Off stage and in its wake came scandal and sensation, as the great artists and mercurial performers involved variously collaborated, clashed, competed while falling in and out of love with each other on a wild carousel of sexual intrigue and temperamental mayhem. The Ballets Russes not only left a matchless artistic legacy – they changed style and glamour, they changed taste, and they changed social behaviour.
The Ballets Russes came to an official end after many vicissitudes with Diaghilev’s abrupt death in 1929. But the achievements of its heroic prime had established a paradigm that would continue to define the terms and set the standards for the next. Published to mark the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Diaghilev’s birth, Rupert Christiansen – leading critic and self-confessed ‘incurable balletomane’ – presents this freshly researched and challenging reassessment of a unique phenomenon, exploring passionate conflicts and outsize personalities in a story embracing triumph and disaster.