Ballets Russes

Poster for Ballets Russes

Winter 2006 Documentary series

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by


Rated NR · 1h 58m

Screened in the Real to Reel programme at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, Ballets Russes is a fascinating and intimate portrait of the Ballets Russes dance company, which completely revolutionized dance in the first half of the twentieth century.

From 1909, when Sergei Diaghilev premiered his Ballet Russe company in Paris, to 1962, when Serge Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performed its final show in Brooklyn, the Ballets Russes brought their groundbreaking and provocative performances to international venues large and small. This amazingly productive period left an indelible mark not only on dance but on stage design, painting, music, film and theatre.

Through interviews with many of the famed ballerinas—now elderly and instructing a new generation in the joys of dance—and carefully researched archival material, co-directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine explore the early, legendary production collaborations between such artistic giants as Nijinsky, Stravinsky, Ravel, Picasso and Matisse; the contentious splits in the company and bitter rivalries, and the immensely popular American tours of the thirties and forties that electrified a nation whose only familiarity with dance came from vaudeville.

All of the many interview subjects are glorious and unforgettable figures, from the final surviving member of Diaghilev’s original troupe to the dazzling preteen ballerinas in the thirties to the first Native American and African American dancers. Geller and Goldfine illustrate the dancers’ fond remembrances with a wonderful array of rare home movies and pioneering dance cinematography and fan footage. Ballets Russes will charm audiences with this glamorous story of the most influential, illustrious and beloved dance company of all time.