As an excellent article in the New York Times recently reminded us, the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev's extraordinary company, gave its very first performance 100 years ago.
I have been celebrating this anniversary with remarkable books. Speaking of Diaghilev is a collection of interviews with all kinds of people, from supreme prima ballerina Tamara Karsavina to dancers Serge Lifar and Ninette de Valois, conductors Ernest Ansermet and Igor Markevich, who were all involved with the Ballets Russes.
I also read Choura, the memoirs of ballerina Alexandra Danilova, whose exquisite face and superb legs you can admire in these pictures. A student of Vaganova at Theater Street and later Marinsky dancer, she was also the second wife of Balanchine. Her recollections of Saint-Petersburg during the 1917 revolution are as engrossing as her tales of working with Massine, Coco Chanel, who designed costumes for the company, Balanchine, Stravinsky, Alicia Markova and many more.
I also just ordered Bronislava Nijinska: The early memoirs, an autobiography of Nijinsky's sister and a choreographer who famously staged Stravinsky's Noces. And I have my eye on John E. Bowlt's Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: Art, Life, & Culture of the Russian Silver Age...