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Diaghilev exhibit on tour from Southbank Centre

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First stop on the tour is Worcester City Art Gallery, but I haven't been able to find out where else it is touring to (Hayward Gallery at Southbank presumably but they have a flaky website which doesn't tell you about upcoming exhibitions).

Here's the info from Worcester (unfortunate that they misspell "Ballets Russes"!):

MATISSE Drawing with Scissors

2 February – 27 April

A Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition from the Southbank Centre, London

Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes

This spring, two stunning exhibitions will combine to provide a spectacular, colourful show.

Matisse: Drawing with scissors

Henri Matisse was one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour and his spectacular paper cut-outs were his final triumph. This exhibition features 35 posthumous prints of the famous cut-outs that he produced in the last years of his life. It includes iconic images such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.

Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes


A unique fabulous collection of costume and ephemera telling the stories of the Ballet Russes, the most spectacular and sometimes scandalous ballet company of the early 1900s. Never before seen together, the objects will pull visitors back to another era. Matisse was one of many artists commissioned to create costumes and scenery for the company, the exhibition also includes work by other great artists of the period including Dame Laura Knight.


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  • 1 month later...

Many thanks to toursenlair for alerting me to this super little exhibition: I was in the area today and managed to catch it. As the Michelin guide would put it, it’s well worth a detour.


It’s not a big exhibition (about a roomful all told) but what there is is delightful and of good quality, and spans the range of the Ballets Russes’ famous designers. The information plates are particularly good, not bombarding is with information but giving just enough to explain while letting us seek more information if we’re intrigued. There’s also a 2 hour film from 2005 playing, featuring the then-surviving dancers: I wish I’d had time to watch it properly as the snatches I caught were lovely (and, my God, how handsome was George Zoritch?).


There are a few original costumes on display as well as a gorgeous outfit of Markova’s. A couple of the men’s costumes were accompanied by a terrific quote from Anton Dolin explaining male dancers’ ‘support’: “It’s three handkerchiefs for Coppelia, and five for Swan Lake, and for Scheherazade, which was very sexy, we just didn’t bother.”


Do go if you’re nearby: it’s on until 27th April, it’s free and there’s no indication that the Ballets Russes part of the exhibition will tour (the collector is local).

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I saw this exhibition in Worcester art gallery and museum this Monday and can only echo Lizbie1 that if you're in the Cotswolds area it's well worth seeing. The Matisse Drawing with Sissors part didn't do anything for me at all but the Ballet Russes collection was fascinating with some great memorabilia and interesting comments and quotes. I love the quote Lizbie mentioned above and there is another one about Diahghilev not paying his dancers much and the 'boys' sharing 5 to a room downstairs and doing a dawn flit early morning (apparently Diaghilev sometimes used to do this too!) The programmes and costumes are interesting and a lovely photo of Nijinsky in Don Q. the film is the commercially available Ballet Russes doc that was released on dvd about 2006 and presumably is still available from second hand dvd suppliers such as Amazon marketplace. it is quite long (about 2 hours) and is definitely worth seeing. Freddie Franklin steals the show.


At the art gallery there is  a café selling soup, toasties etc and I noticed a poster where we were sitting. The word Bayaders caught my eye but these were the Female Ethiopian Bayaderes and Serenaders who were visiting Worcester as part of a national tour in 1847. Presumably they were just singers and dancers but interesting the term Bayadere was in common enough use then for people reading the posters to understand what they were.


If anyone can make it to the gallery next Tuesday the 12th there is a half hour talk late lunchtime about the Ballet Russes for £3.

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I spent a very enjoyable hour at this gem of an exhibition. Made possible by the loan of a private collector who is based in Worcester, there are some unusual and interesting exhibits which are unlikely to be on show again. Just to add to the items noted by previous posts, there are several items of memorabilia relating to Dame Alicia Markova including some fans, photos and a lovely cloak. The accompanying information about the Ballet Russe is well researched and provides an assessment of its influence on British ballet. The exhibition runs until 27th April - go if you can.



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