Timeline of Ballets Russes

  • 1850

    Italian dancer, choreographer, and teacher Enrico Cecchetti is born on 21 June in Rome (d.1928). Cecchetti debuted at the Maryinsky Theatre in 1887, where he worked until 1902. Cecchetti joined the Ballets Russes in 1910 as a teacher and administrator, where he remained-except for a brief tour of the United States with Anna Pavlova in 1913-until 1918. While part of the Ballets Russes, he created roles in Schéhérazade, Petrouchka, The Firebird, Le Coq d'or, Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur, La Boutique Fantasque, and Pulcinella.

  • 1859

    French historian, art historian, and poet Pierre de Nolhac is born on 15 December in Ambert (d.1936).

  • 1861

    German musicologist and writer Louis Schneider is born (d.1934)

  • 1862

    Prominent French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy (Achille-Claude Debussy, d.1918) is born on 22 August in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In 1912 Debussy agreed to allow Diaghilev to use his Prélude à L'Après-midi d'un Faune (1893) for Vaslav Nijinsky's first choreography for the Ballets Russes. In 1913, Debussy was commissioned to compose the music for Nijinsky's second ballet, Jeux.

  • 1863

    Aleksandr Golovin (Aleksandr Iakovlevich Golovin, d. 1930) is born on 2 [14] November in Moscow. Golovin designed the sets for Diaghilev's Paris 1908 production of Boris Godunov and collaborated with Nikolai Roerich on the opera Ivan the Terrible (1909). In 1910, he designed the sets and costumes for The Firebird (although Diaghilev later asked Léon Bakst to redesign three of the costumes). Golovin designed the costumes and collaborated with designer Konstantin Korovin on the sets for Diaghilev's 1911 production of Swan Lake.

  • 1866

    Russian scenery and costume designer for the Ballets Russes Léon Bakst (Lev Samoilovich Rosenberg; d. 1924) is born on 27 April in Grodno. Bakst becomes one of the principal members of Diaghilev's original circle of artists, writers, and musicians, designing the scenery and/or costumes for nineteen Ballets Russes productions-more than any other artist.

  • 1869

    French artist Henri Matisse (Henri-Emile-Benôit Matisse, d. 1954) is born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis. In 1920, Matisse created the décor for Massine's Le Chant du Rossignol, which was rechoreographed in 1925 by George Balanchine.

  • 1870

    Russian-French painter and scenery and costume designer Alexandre Benois is born on 4 May in Saint Petersburg (Aleksandr Nikolaevich Benua, d. 1960). Benois created designs for seven productions by Serge Diaghilev and staged the 1924 opera Philémon et Baucis.

  • 1871

    Amateur musician and life-long friend of Diaghilev, Walter Nouvel (Walter Feodorovich Nouvel, d.1949) is born. Nouvel was music critic for Diaghilev's Mir iskusstva and secretary to the Ballets Russes.

  • 1872

    Serge Diaghilev (Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev) is born 19 [31] March in Selishchev Barraks, Novgorod Province Russia (d.1929). The Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev erupted onto the cultural scene of Paris in 1909. For the next twenty years, the company cultivated an extraordinary group of emerging artists, composers, and choreographers, who collaborated to produce the first great ballet classics of the twentieth century. By pioneering innovations in choreographic practices, scene and costume design, and in the very concept of ballet music itself, the Ballets Russes expanded the dramatic and emotional potential of ballet. Some of the Ballets Russes's vanguard works that are still performed today include Les Sylphides, The Firebird, Petrouchka, L'Après-midi d'un Faune, Parade, Les Noces, Les Biches, Apollo, and Prodigal Son. The man behind this achievement was the Russian impresario and entrepreneur Serge Diaghilev, who had the wisdom, limitless imagination, shrewdness, and most importantly, the ruthlessness required to nourish an artistic enterprise that revolutionized the course of art, music, and dance. [See also, the operas and ballets produced by Diaghilev]

    Matilda Kshessinska (Matil'da-Mariia Feliksovna Kshesinskaia, d.1971) is born at Ligovo, near Saint Petersburg. Generally accepted as the last great Russian ballerina of the imperial age, she danced with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes during the 1911/12 season and appeared in London, Monte Carlo, Vienna, and Budapest.

  • 1873

    Fedor Chaliapin (Fedor Ivanovich Chaliapin, d.1938) is born in Kazan, Russia. Chaliapin joined the opera company at the Maryinsky Theatre in 1995 and by 1899 was also engaged at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

    Dancer Vera Trefilova (Vera Aleksandrovna Trefilova, d.1943) is born on 8 October in Saint Petersburg. Trefilova joined the Ballets Russes in 1921 to dance in The Sleeping Princess. She remained with the company until 1926.

    French poet and literary critic Fernand Gregh (d.1960) is born in Paris.

    French writer Henry Bidou (d.1943) is born.

  • 1874

    French music critic Robert Brussel (d.1940) is born.

    English critic and expert on Russian composers Edwin Evans (d. 1945) is born in London.

    Louis Laloy (d. 1944), French music critic and authority on Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky, is born.

  • 1875

    French composer Henri Février (d. 1957) is born.

  • 1876

    Seraphina Astafieva (Serafina Aleksandrovna Astaf'eva, d.1934) is born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Astafieva danced with the Ballets Russes from 1909-1911. She opened a ballet school in London, where she taught famed British dancers Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, and Margot Fonteyn.

    French music critic, composer, and musicologist Jean Poueigh is born on 24 February in Toulouse (d.1958).

    Russian dancer Ekaterina Geltser (Ekaterina Vasil'evna Geltser, d.1962) is born. She danced in Paris with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1910.

    Spanish composer Manuel de Falla is born on 23 November in Cádiz (d.1946). In 1917 De Falla composes one ballet for the Ballets Russes, Le Tricorne.

  • 1877

    French writer Jules Bertaut (d. 1959) is born.

    French writer Albert Flament is born (date of death unknown).

  • 1879

    Sophia Fedorova (Sof'ia Vasil'evna Fedorova, d.1963) is born in Russia. Fedorova joined the Ballets Russes in 1909 and performed regularly with the company until 1913. Thereafter, she appeared from time-to-time with the Ballets Russes, making her last performance in 1928. Fedorova's repertory included roles in "Polovtisian Dances" from the opera Prince Igor; Cléopâtre, and Schéhérazade.

    Artist Léopold Survage is born in Vilmanstrad, Finland (d.1968). Survage trained in Moscow and moved to Paris in 1908. His single contribution to the Ballets Russes was the set and costume designs and curtain for Stravinsky's opera Mavra.

  • 1880

    Russian dancer and choreographer, Michel Fokine is born on 23 April [15 May] in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokin, d.1942). Fokine's L'Pavillon d'Armide was the opening ballet for Diaghilev's first Paris season in 1909. Fokine becomes the principal choreographer of the Ballets Russes when Diaghilev launches a permanent company in 1911. By producing more than twenty works for Diaghilev between 1909-1912 and 1914-1915, Fokine's choreographies established the base for the repertory of the Ballets Russes until it dissolved in 1929.

    Russian ballet dancer and teacher, Lubov Egorova (Liubov' Nikolaevna Egorova, d. 1972) is born in Saint Petersburg.

    French poet, writer, and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Wlodzimierz Apolinalry Kostrowick, d. 1918) is born on 26 August.

    Russian dancer and choreographer, Mikhail Mordkin (Mikhail Mikhailovich Mordkin, d. 1944) is born on 21 December [2 January 1881 old style] in Moscow. Mordkin joined Diaghilev for the first Paris season in 1909 where he danced in Le Pavillon d'Armide.

    French artist André Derain is born on 10 June in Chatou, Yuelines, Île-de-France (d.1954). Derain created the sets, costumes, and curtain for the Ballets Russes productions of Le Boutique Fantasque (1919) and the sets and costumes for Jack-in-the-Box (1926).

  • 1881

    Russian dancer Anna Pavlova (Anna Matveevna [later changed to Pavlovna] Pavlova, d.1931) is born on 31 January [12 February old style] in Saint Petersburg. Diaghilev invited Pavlova to appear with his enterprise in Paris in 1909 and she danced in Les Sylphides and Cléopâtra. She performed only once more with the Ballets Russes, during their 1911 London engagement. Partnered by Vaslav Nijinsky, she danced in Giselle; Le Pavillon d'Armide; Cléopâtra; Le Carnaval; L'Oiseau d'Or; and in Petipa's Bluebird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty.

    Mikhail Larionov (Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov, d. 1964) is born in Tiraspol, Bessarabia. Larionov, a Russian-French scenery and costume designer, collaborated with Diaghilev on five productions, including sets and costumes for Soleil de Nuit (1915); Kikimora (1916); and Le Renard (1922) and sets, costumes and curtain for Contes Russes (1917) and Chout (1921). His lifelong companion was the Russian artist Natalia Goncharova.

    Spanish painter and set and costume designer, Pablo Picasso (Pablo Ruiz Picasso de Blasco, d.1973) is born in Málaga. His success and development as an artist is directly related to his work for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Between 1917 and 1927 he designed the sets and costumes for Parade (1917); Cuadro Flamenco (1921); and Mercure (1927); the sets, costumes, and curtain for Le Tricorne (1919); and Pulcinella (1920); and the curtain for Le Train Bleu (1924).

    Natalia Goncharova (Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova, d.1962) is born on 4 June in Ladyzhino, Russia. One of the most important Russian women artists of the twentieth century, Goncharova designed the sets and costumes for Diaghilev's productions of Le Coq d'Or (1904); Les Noces (1923); and Night on Bare Mountain (1924). She also designed costumes for the ballet Contes Russes (1917). She collaborated with Alexandre Benois on the designs for Aurora's Wedding (1922) and Goncharova was responsible for designing the 1926 revival of The Firebird. Her lifelong companion was the Russian-French artist Mikhail Larionov.

    Russian music critic, writer, and musicologist Boris de Schloezer is born (d.1969). Schloezer often wrote on the music of the Ballets Russes and was the author of books on composers Alexandre Scriabin and Igor Stravinsky.

    French writer and dance critic Maurice Brillant is born (d.1953).

  • 1882

    French illustrator George Barbier is born on 10 October in Nantes. One of Barbier's best-known works is Designs on the Dances of Vaslav Nijinsky with a foreward by Francis de Miomandre, and translated from the French by C.W. Beaumont, London, 1913.

    Georges Braque is born on 18 May in Argenteuil, Val-d'Oise, France (d.1963). The famed artist designed two ballets for Diaghilev: the costumes, sets, and curtain for Les Fâcheux (1924) and the costumes and sets for Zéphire et Flore (1925).

    Igor Stravinsky (Igor' Fedorovich Stravinskii, d.1971) is born in Oranienbaum, Russia. One of the most important composers of the twentieth century and a significant composer of ballet music, Diaghilev commissioned orchestrations from Stravinsky for the 1909 Paris season. Stravinsky's first composition for the Ballets Russes was The Firebird (1910), a work that inaugurated Stravinsky's international career. Other ballets, operas, and other compositions produced for Serge Diaghilev by Stravinsky included Petrouchka (1911); Le Sacre du Printemps (1913); Le Rossignol (1914; the work was staged as a ballet in 1920 under the name Le Chant du Rossignol); Feu d'Artifice (1917); Le Renard (1922); Mavra (1922); Les Noces (1923); Oedipus Rex (1927); and Apollon Musagète (1928). Writer David Hamilton noted that Stravinsky "was widely recognized as the last representative of a long tradition of great composers of international stature."

  • 1883

    Serge Grigoriev, rehearsal director for the Ballets Russes from 1909-1929, is born on 5 October in Tichvin, Russia (Sergei Leonidovich Grigor'ev, d. 1968). In 1909 Diaghilev engaged Grigoriev as a business manager and rehearsal director for the first Paris season. Grigoriev was a dancer with the company and created roles in Schéhérazade, Le Coq d'or, and La Boutique Fantasque. Grigoriev's notebooks and scrapbooks provide some of the best available documentation of this period. His memoirs, The Diaghilev Ballet 1909-1929, were translated into English and published in 1953. Grigoriev was married to Ballets Russes dancer and ballet mistress, Lubov Tchernicheva. After Diaghilev's death in 1929, Grigoriev joined Col. W. de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, where he was employed as ballet master until 1948. Grigoriev's memoirs, which cover this era, have neither been translated nor published and are available on this website for the first time.

    Ernest Ansermet, conductor for the Orchestre des Ballets Russes, is born on 11 November 1883 (d. 1969) in Vevey, Switzerland. Ansermet conducts the company's orchestra for the first time in December 1915 in a performance of Léonide Massine's ballet Le Soleil de Nuit. In 1916, he accompanies the company on its South American tour. Ansermet conducts the first performances of the ballets Pulcinella, Parade, Le Tricone, and Chout.

    Maurice Utrillo (Maurice Valadon, d.1955) is born on 26 December in Paris. Utrillo created the sets and costumes for the ballet Barabau (1925).

    Noted French writer and critic Fernand Divoire is born.

    French painter, journalist, translator, and artistic consultant to Serge Diaghilev (1913-1929), Michel Georges-Michel is born in Paris (Georges Dreyfus, d.1985).

    Russian dancer, actress, producer, and impresario Ida Rubinstein (Lidiia L'vovna Rubinstein, d.1960) is born in Kharkov. Rubinstein studied with Michel Fokine who choreographed the dances she planned to use for an independent production of Oscar Wilde's play, Salomé. Although the project did not come to fruition, Rubinstein did dance her version of the "Dance of the Seven Veils" at a performance in the Petersburg Conservatory. Serge Diaghilev was in attendance and contracted her to perform in the title role of Cléopâtre for his premiere Paris season in 1909. Her last performances with the Ballets Russes took place in 1910, when she appeared in Schéhérazade with Vaslav Nijinsky.

  • 1884

    Russian-American dancer, teacher, and choreographer Adolph Bolm (Adol'f Rudol'fovich Bolm, d. 1951) in Saint Petersburg. Bolm joined the Ballets Russes in 1909 and was one of the company's prominent dancers until he resigned in 1917. He created roles in "Polovtsian Dances" from Prince Igor; Le Carnaval; The Firebird; Petrouchka; Daphnis et Chloë; and Thamar.

    Music critic and writer W.J. Turner (Walter James Redfern Turner, d. 1946) was born on 13 October in Melbourne, Australia.

  • 1885

    One of the most respected ballerinas of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and famed interpreter of Michel Fokine's choreography, Tamara Karsavina (Tamara Platonovna Karsavina, d.1978) is born in Saint Petersburg. She created roles in The Firebird; Jeux; Le Tricorne; Pulcinella; Petrouchka; Thamar; Le Coq d'Or; Schéhérazade; Le Spectre de la Rose; and Romeo and Juliet. Karsavina's Ballets Russes repertory also included Les Sylphides; Cléopâtre; and Le Carnaval.

    Artist Marie Laurencien is born (d.1956). Laurencien created the sets, costumes, and curtain for the ballet Les Biches (1926).

  • 1886

    Constructionist sculptor Antoine Pevsner is born on 18 January (d.1962) in Orel, Russia. Along with his brother Naum Gabo, he designed the set and costumes for Diaghilev's production of the ballet La Chatte (1926).

    American music critic Olin Downes is born on 27 January.

    Vera Fokina (Vera Antonova, d.1958) is born in Russia. In 1905, Fokina married the well-known dancer/choreographer Michel Fokine. Fokina danced in many of her husband's ballets and created roles in Ballets Russes productions of Le Carnaval and The Firebird.

    English composer, writer, and founder of the International Folk-Song and Folk-Lore Society Julia Chatterton is born (d.1936).

    French musicologist and patron of contemporary art in all forms Henri Prunières is born on 24 May (d.1942).

  • 1887

    Russian ballet and literary critic André Levinson (Andrei Iakovlevich Levinson, d. 1933) is born on 1 January in Saint Petersburg. Levinson published a considerable amount of dance criticism related to Diaghilev and his organization-much of it criticized what Levinson felt was Diaghilev's heavy emphasis on costumes, set designs, and music, rather than the dance.

    Spanish painter and sculptor Juan Gris (José Victoriano González-Pérez, d.1927) is born on May 23 in Madrid. Gris provides costumes for the ballet The Gods Go A-Begging (1928) and the sets and costumes for the ballet Les Tentations de la Bergère (1924) and the opera Une Éducation Manquée (1924). Gris also creates the sets for a 1923 divertissement that was arranged by Diaghilev and performed in the Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles.

    English theater critic and manager, lyricist, and writer Herbert Farjeon (d.1945) is born.

  • 1888

    Polish-British dancer, teacher, and company director Marie Rambert (Cyvia Rambam; Myriam Ramberg/Rambach, d.1982) is born in Warsaw on February 20. Rambert was an assistant teacher at Émile Jaques-Dalcroze's school in Dresden when she was discovered by Diaghilev. Diaghilev was looking for somebody to assist Nijinsky with the rhythms for his choreography in Igor Stravinsky's work, Le Sacre du Printemps. As well as assisting Nijinsky, she also danced in the Ballets Russes corps de ballet in works such as Schéhérazade and traveled to South America with the company in 1913.

    Dancer Ludmilla Schollar (Liudmila Frantsevna Shollar, d.1978) is born on 15 March in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Schollar joined the Ballets Russes in 1909 and created roles in a number of Michel Fokine's ballets including Le Carnaval (1910); Schéhérazade (1910); Petrouchka (1911); and Jeux (1913). She returned to Saint Petersburg during World War I and rejoined the Ballets Russes in 1921, where she performed in The Sleeping Princess. She was dismissed from the company in 1925 as a result of a labor dispute.

    Giorgio de Chirico is born on 10 July in Volos, Greece (d.1978). The noted artist designed the costumes and sets for Le Bal (1929).

    French dancer and teacher Nicholas Zvereff is born in Moscow, Russia (d. 1965).

  • 1889

    Ballets Russes librettist Jean Cocteau (d. 1963) is born on 5 July in Maisons-Lafitte, France. Between 1912 and 1927, Cocteau provides libretti or scenarios for the ballets Le Dieu Bleu, Parade, Le Train Bleu, and the opera Oedipus Rex.

    Vaslav Nijinsky (Vatslav Fomich Nizhinskii, [1890?], d. 1950) is born on 12 March in Kiev, Ukraine. One of the most significant dance celebrities of the twentieth century, Nijinsky joins the Ballets Russes in 1909 and soon establishes himself an international star. Among the many artists associated with the Ballets Russes, only Nijinsky becomes a celebrity and a legend. As a dancer, he was admired for his outstanding ballet technique and dramatic onstage presence. As a choreographer, he created ground-breaking works for the Ballets Russes, including L'Après-Midi d'un Faune, Le Sacre de Printemps, Jeux, and Till Eulenspeigel.

    American writer, editor, and arts promoter Arthur Harold Moss is born in New York City (d.1969).

    French journalist and music critic Dominique Sordet is born (d.1945).

    Photograph of Nijinsky children, Vaslav, Bronislava, Stanislav
  • 1890

    Diaghilev completes his secondary studies at the Perm gymnasium and makes his first trip to Europe.

    Lubov Tchernicheva, Ballets Russes dancer, is born on 17 September (Liubov' Pavlovna Chernyshova, d.1976). Tchernicheva joins the Ballets Russes with her husband, Serge Grigoriev, in 1911. As a dancer whose repertory included more than twenty Ballets Russes works, in 1926 she took on the additional role of Ballet Mistress.

    Constructionist sculptor Naum Gabo (Naum Neemia Pevsner, d. 1977) was born on 5 August in Bryansk, Russian. Along with his brother Antoine Persner, he designed the set and costumes for Diaghilev's production of the ballet La Chatte (1926).

  • 1891

    Bronislava Nijinska (Bronislava Fominichna Nizhinskaia, d. 1972) is born on 8 January [27 December 1890] in Minsk Russia. She becomes one of the most remarkable figures in the development of twentieth-century choreography. Nijinska's work reflected a pioneering combination of classical ballet and choreographic innovation. She was the sister of Vaslav Nijinsky and joined the Ballets Russes as a dancer in 1909 and made principal dancer the next year. From 1921-1924, Nijinska was ballet mistress and chief choreographer for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. During this period she choreographed nine ballets and numerous operas.

    Artist Max Ernst (d.1976) is born in Brühl, Germany on 2 April. He creates the curtain for Romeo and Juliet (1926).

    Russian-English ballet dancer and actress Lydia Lopokova (Lidiia Vasil'evna Lopukhova, d.1981) is born on 21 [9] October in Saint Petersburg. She joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1910 and received acclaim for her work in Le Carnaval and The Firebird, roles that she took on as Tamara Karsavina's substitute. Soon after, Lopokova left the Ballets Russes but returned in 1916, becoming its star ballerina. Except for a short period when she appeared on Broadway, she remained with Diaghilev until 1922. After 1922 she made guest appearances with the company.

    Olga Khokhlova (Olga Stepanovna Khokhlova, d.1954) is born in Nizhyn, Ukraine. Because her father had connections that Diaghilev desired, Khokhlova had a short career as a dancer in the Ballets Russes. Not particularly respected as a dancer, she is known as the wife of Pablo Picasso, who met her while he was designing the ballet Parade.

    Romola de Pulszky is born in Hungary (d.1978). As a teenager, de Pulszky saw Vaslav Nijinsky dance in Les Sylphides and was so enamored that she used her family's connections to convince Serge Diaghilev to let her travel as a ballet student with the Ballets Russes in 1913. Nijinsky and de Pulszky were married on 10 September 1913 in Buenos Aires, resulting in Nijinsky's dismissal from the Ballets Russes.

    Musicologist, conductor, pianist, and critic Paul Collaer is born in Boon, Belgium (d.1989). Collaer wrote on numerous composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Darius Milhaud, and Béla Bartók.

    French writer, music critic and editor, and editor of the prestigious La Revue musicale, Andre Coeuroy is born (date of death unavailable).

  • 1893

    Catalan artist Joan Miró is born on 20 April in Barcelona (d.1983). Miró collaborated with Max Ernst to create the sets, costumes, and curtain for Romeo and Juliet (1926).

  • 1894

    Polish dancer Stanislas Idzikowski (Stanislaw Idzikowski, d.1977) is born in Warsaw. He joined the Ballets Russes in 1914 and, except for a brief period, remained with Diaghilev until 1929. In addition to taking over a number of Vaslav Nijinsky's roles, Idzikowski created roles in Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur (1917); Contes Russes (1917); La Boutique Fantasque (1919); Le Tricorne (1919); Pulcinella (1920); The Sleeping Princess (1921); and Jack-in-the-Box (1926).

    English writer A. Williams-Ellis (Annabel Williams-Ellis, d. 1978) is born.

  • 1896

    Diaghilev publishes his first art criticism.

    One of the first English dancers to work for Diaghilev, Lydia Sokolova (Hilda Munings, d.1974) is born on 4 March in Warstead, England. Sokolova performed with the Ballets Russes 1913-1922; 1923-1929. She created roles in Till Eulenspiegel (1916); Le Boutique Fantasque (1919); Le Tricorne (1919); Le Chant du Rossignol (1920 Massine version); Le Sacre du Printemps (Massine’s 1920 version); Le Biches and Le Train Bleu (both 1924); Romeo and Juliet (1926); and Le Bal (1929). Sokolova wrote about her years with the Ballets Russes in Memoirs Dancing for Diaghilev, edited by Richard Buckle (1960).

    Russian dancer and teacher Felia Doubrovska (Felitsata Leont'evna Dluzhenevskaia, d. 1981) is born on 13 February in Saint Petersburg. Having fled Russia in 1920, except for the 1926-1927 season, she was a principal dancer with the Ballets Russes until 1929, creating roles in Les Noces, Apollon Musagète, and The Prodigal Son.

    Dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine (Leonid Fedorovich Miasin; died in 1979) is born on 3 August in Moscow. Massine joined the Ballets Russes in 1914 as a dancer and was its chief choreographer from 1915-1920 Masssine continued the experiments in movement initiated by Michel Fokine but integrated character and ethnic influences into his choreographies, resulting in highly dramatic ballets. Some of his most notable choreographic works include Contes Russes, Parade, Le Tricorne, Pulcinella, and La Boutique Fantasque.

    Anatole Vilzak (Anatolii Iosifovich Vil'tzak, d.1998 is born in Vilnius, Lithuania on 29 August. Along with his wife, dancer Ludmilla Schollar, Vilzak joined the Ballets Russes in 1921, quickly becoming one of the company's leading male dancers. His repertory included The Sleeping Princess; Aurora's Wedding; Les Sylphides, Schéhérazade; le Carnagal and Les Biches. He and Schollar were released from the Ballets Russes in 1925 due to a labor dispute.

  • 1897

    Diaghilev organizes his first art exhibition at the Stieglitz Museum in Saint Petersburg.

    Belgian composer and music critic Arthur Hoerée (d. 1986) is born in Brussels.

  • 1898

    Diaghilev cofounds a journal, Mir iskusstva (The World of Art), with Léon Bakst and Alexandre Benois.

    Italian composer Vittorio Rieti is born on 28 January in Alexandria, Egypt. Rieti composes two ballets for Serge Diaghilev: Barabau (1925) and Le Bal (1929).

    Dancer Ninette de Valois (Edris Stannus, d.2001) is born in Blessingham, county Wicklow, Ireland on 6 June. De Valois joined the corps de ballet of the Ballets Russes in the fall of 1923. During her two-year tenure with the company, she danced in numerous ballets, including Aurora's Wedding; Les Biches; The Sleeping Beauty; Le Carnaval; L'Après-midi d'un Faune; Le Train Bleu; Les Fâcheux; Le Rossignol; and Romeo and Juliet. De Valois is best-known for her role in founding the Royal Ballet.

    French conductor Roger Désormière is born on 13 September (d.1963). Désormière conducts the Orchestre des Ballets Russes from 1925-1929.

    Russian painter and stage designer Pavel Tchelitchev (Pavel Fedorovich Chelishchev, d.1957) is born on 21 September in Moscow. Tchelitchev created the set and costume designs for the ballet Ode (1928).

  • 1899

    Diaghilev is appointed a special assistant to the director of the Imperial Theaters, Saint Petersburg.

    Polish dancer Leon Woizikowski (Leon Wójcikowski, d.1974) is born on 20 February in Warsaw. Woizikowski joined the Ballets Russes in 1915 and created roles in the ballets Las Meninas (1916); Contes Russes (1917); Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur (1917); Parade (1917); La Boutique Fantasque (1919); Le Tricorne (1919); and Pulcinella (1920). He also danced in "Polovtsian Dances" from Prince Igor and Petrouchka. Woizikowski left the Ballets Russes in 1922 but rejoined the next year and continued to create new roles, including Les Noces (1923); Les Biches (1924); Le Train Bleu (1924); and The Prodigal Son (1929).

    French composer Francis Poulenc (Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc, d.1963) is born in Paris. Poulenc's acquaintance with the Ballets Russes began in 1919 when Diaghilev asked him to work on Charles Gounod's opera La Colombe, which premiered in Monte Carlo in 1924. Poulenc also composed the score for Diaghilev's production of Les Biches (1924).

    Russian dancer Vera Nemchinova (Vera Nikolaevna Nemtchinova, d.1984) is born on 26 August in Moscow. Nemchinova was a member of the Ballets Russes from 1915-1926 and became one of the company's most respected and legendary ballerinas. Her repertory included roles in Les Sylphides; La Boutique Fantasque; Swan Lake; Pulcinella; Le Astuzie Femminili; The Sleeping Beauty; Les Tentations de la Bergère; Les Biches; and Les Matelots.

  • 1903

    Composer Vernon Duke (Vladimir Dukelsky, d.1969) is born on 10 October. Diaghilev commissioned one ballet from Dukelsky: Zèphire et Flore (1925).

    Alexandra Danilova (Aleksandra Dionisievna Dalilova, d.1997) is born on 20 November in Peterhof, Russia. In 1924, she was part of a small dance company that was on tour in Germany when the company was recalled by Soviet authorities. The dancers chose not to return and auditioned for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Danilova joined the company in late 1924. She created roles in Le Pas d'Acier, The Triumph of Neptune, The Gods Go A-Begging, and Le Bal. Other Ballets Russes repertory included roles in Apollon Musagète, The Firebird, La Boutique Fantasque, Petrouchka, Aurora's Wedding, and Les Biches.

  • 1904

    Russian-French ballet scenarist and Serge Diaghilev's artistic collaborator, Boris Kochno (d.1990) is born on 3 [16] January in Moscow. Kochno created the libretti for eleven of Diaghilev's operas and ballets: Mavra (1922); Les Tentations de la Bergère (1924); Les Fâcheux (1924); Zéphire et Flore (1925); Les Matelots (1925); Romeo and Juliet (1926); La Pastorale (1926); La Chatte (1927, written under his nom de plume, Sobeka); Ode (1928); Le Bal (1928); and Les Fils Prodigue (1929). The Ballets Russes' ballet master, Serge Grigoriev, noted that as Diaghilev began to lose interest in the company in the later 1920s, Kochno took on more and more administrative and artistic responsibility.

    George Balanchine (Georgii Melitonovich Balanchivadze, d.1983) is born on 22 January in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Balanchine becomes a member of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as a dancer and begins to choreograph for the company in the 1920s. Today, Balanchine is regarded as one of the principal artists of modern times and the founder of classical ballet in America.

    Anton Dolin (Sydney Francis Patrick Healey-Kay, d.1983) is born on 27 July in Slinfold, Sussex, England. Dolin joined the Ballets Russes in 1921 and created roles in Le Train Bleu and The Prodigal Son. While a member of the Ballets Russes, Dolin danced with Alicia Markova, with whom he later founded the Markova-Dolin Ballet. Dolin was also a founder of the London Festival Ballet.

    Russian dancer Alice Nikitina is born in Saint Petersburg (d.1978). In 1923 she joined the Ballets Russes and created roles in Zéphire et Flore (1925); Apollon Musagète (1928); and Le Bal (1929).

    Catalan artist Pedro Pruna is born. Pruna creates the set design, costume design, and curtain for two Diaghilev productions: Les Matelots (1925) and La Pastorale (1926).

  • 1905

    Russian dancer, choreographer, and teacher Serge Lifar (Sergei Mikhailovich Serdkin, d.1986) is born on 2 April in Kiev. Lifar joined the Ballets Russes in 1923 and, until the demise of the company in 1929, danced prominent roles in many of the company's new productions, including Le Fâcheux; Le Train Bleu; La Boutique Fantasque; Zéphire et Flore; Les Matelots; Barabau; Romeo and Juliet; La Pastorale; Pas d'Acier; Ode; Apollon Musagète; and Le Bal.

    British composer Constant Lambert (Leonard Constant Lambert, d.1951) is born on 23 August. At the young age of 20, Lambert received a commission from Diaghilev to compose the music for the ballet Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in 1926.

  • 1906

    Diaghilev organizes his first exhibition of Russian art held at the Salon d'Automne in Paris.

  • 1907

    Diaghilev presents a series of Russian Historical Concerts at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra.

    Russian dancer Tamara Geva (Tamara Leonidovna Zheverzheeva, d.1997) was born in Saint Petersburg. In 1924, she was part of a small dance company that included Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine (to whom Geva was married), which was on tour in Germany. When the company was recalled by Soviet authorities, the dancers remained in the West and auditioned for Serge Diaghilev. Geva was a member of the Ballets Russes from 1924-1926. In a 1997 interview for Dance Magazine, Geva noted "For me the Diaghilev period was not entirely pleasant….Diaghilev once told me, 'If Sokolova [Lydia] dies or leaves the company, I will let you have all her parts.' Well, who wanted to wait that long? It just wasn't in me to wait around…."

  • 1908

    Diaghilev brings the opera Boris Godunov to Paris for a premiere on 19 May 1908 at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra. The production, which starred noted Russian singer Fedor Chaliapin, is performed for the first time outside Russia.

  • 1909

    Diaghilev returns to Paris and includes dance along with opera during the 1909 Saison Russe at the Théâtre du Châtelet. The operas included Ivan the Terrible, Ruslan and Ludmilla, and Judith. The five ballet productions were Le Pavillon d'Armide; "Polovtsian Dances" from act 2 of the opera Prince Igor; Le Festin; Les Sylphides; and Cléopâtre. The 1909 season is so successful that it inaugurates Diaghilev's career as a ballet impresario.

    Vaslav Nijinsky and his sister Bronislava Nijinska join Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as dancers.

  • 1910

    Stung by criticism from the Paris critics that claim Diaghilev produces well-danced ballets with exotic décors and costumes, but with no comparable innovative music component, he turns to the young composer Igor Stravinsky. The Firebird represents Stravinsky's first commission from the Ballets Russes and proves to be the catalyst that begins his ascent to international acclaim. Other ballets produced during 1910 included: Le Carnaval; Schéhérazade; Giselle; and Les Orientales.

    English ballerina Alicia Markova (Lillian Alicia Marks, d.2004) is born on 1 December in London. In January 1925, Serge Diaghilev hired Markova-who was only fourteen years old-to dance with the Ballets Russes. Her repertory included Swan Lake; Le Chant du Rossignol; La Chatte; and Cimarosiana.

  • 1911

    The 1909-1910 seasons of the Ballets Russes consisted of a pick-up troupe of dancers on vacation from the Russian Imperial Theater. However, the ballets were so popular with Paris audiences that Diaghilev creates a permanent dance company in 1911 with Michel Fokine as the principal choreographer.

    Ballets produced during the 1911 season include Petrouchka; Le Spectre de la Rose; Narcisse; "Au Royaume sous-Marin" from scene 6 of the opera Sadko; and Swan Lake.

    On January 23, Vaslav Nijinsky dances the role of Albrecht in Giselle, wearing a costume designed by Alexandre Benois, which caused his dismissal from the Imperial Theatre.

  • 1912

    The 1912 season of the Ballets Russes is presented in the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and included Le Dieu Bleu, Thamar, Daphnis et Chloë, and L'Après-Midi d'un Faune.

  • 1913

    The 1913 season of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes is performed in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris. As well as the opera Khovanshchina and the ballet La Tragédie de Salomé, premiere danseur Vaslav Nijinska made his choreographic debut with two new works, Le Sacre du Printemps and Jeux.

    During a Ballets Russes tour to South America, Vaslav Nijinsky marries Romola de Pulszky on September 10 in Buenos Aires. Diaghilev dismisses Nijinsky from the company in late 1913.

  • 1914

    During the 1914 season, the Ballets Russes premieres the ballet Papillons in Monte Carlo; and Die Josephslegende (also called La Légende de Joseph and Legend of Joseph) and Midas at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Paris. Diaghilev also produces four operas during 1914: L'Coq d'Or, Le Rossignol, Prince Igor, and May Night.

    Léonide Massine joins the Ballets Russes as a dancer.

  • 1915

    Léonide Massine is named chief choreographer for the Ballets Russes, a position he held until 1920.

    The Ballets Russes premieres Le Soleil de Nuit (retitled Midnight Sun in 1918) at the Grand Théâtre, Geneva.

  • 1916

    The Ballets Russes premieres two works at the Teatro Eugenia-Victoria, San Sebastián: Las Menias and Kikimora (subsumed in 1917 into a new work called Contes Russes).

    The Ballets Russes begins a tour of the United States in January under the direction of Vaslav Nijinsky, who had returned to the company. Nijinsky's ballet Till Eulenspiegel is premiered in New York.

  • 1917

    Pablo Picasso designs the sets, costumes, and curtain for Parade, his first ballet for Diaghilev. Picasso creates designs for five Ballets Russes productions between 1917 and 1924 as well as drawings for programs.

    The Ballets Russes premieres two works at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris: Contes Russes and Parade.

    Diaghilev commissions Giacomo Balla to create a light show that is projected on a geometrically designed set to preexisting music by Igor Stravinsky. The work, called Feu d'Artifice (Fireworks), premieres in Rome. Massine's ballet Les Femmes de Bonne Humeur is premiered on the same program.

    The Ballets Russes tours South America and is joined by Vaslav Nijinsky, who returns to the company for the last time. Nijinsky insists that he be paid in cash prior to each performance. At the end of September, he performs his last public performance, which takes place in Montevideo, Uruguay.

  • 1918

    Due to the Russian Revolution of 1917, Diaghilev faces increasing difficulty in obtaining financial support for the Ballets Russes. In the spring of 1918 he moves to Madrid and then to London, where the company appears in the London Coliseum. The company performs consistently in London until 1922.

  • 1919

    The Ballets Russes premieres two ballets: La Boutique Fantasque and Le Tricorne at the Alhambra Theatre, London.

  • 1920

    The Ballets Russes premiered the ballet Le Chant du Rossignol in early February at the Théâtre de l'Opéra, Paris. The ballet was adapted from Stravinsky's opera Le Rossignol, which was produced by Diaghilev in 1914.

    The Ballets Russes May season at the Théâtre de l'Opéra, Paris, produced two new ballets: Pulcinella and Le Astuzie Femminili.

  • 1921

    Two new ballets were premiered during the Ballets Russes’s May season at the Théâtre Gaîté-Lyrique, Paris: Chout and Cuadro Flamenco. Cuadro Flamenco was not performed by dancers from the Ballets Russes but by traditional Spanish dancers.

    In November, the Ballets Russes premiered a full-length version of The Sleeping Princess, based on the well-known ballet The Sleeping Beauty at the Alhambra Theatre, London.

  • 1922

    Two new ballets are premiered during the May-June season at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Paris: Aurora's Wedding, a one-act version of The Sleeping Princess, and Le Renard. Diaghilev also produced Mavra, a new opera by Igor Stravinsky.

  • 1923

    In March, the Ballets Russes premieres Danses Russes at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Monte Carlo. In June, Les Noces is premiered at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique, Paris.

  • 1924

    Seven new ballets are premiered at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo in January: Les Tentations de la Bergère, ou l'Amour Vainqueur; Les Biches; Ballet de L'Astuce Féminine (later called Cimarosiana), a suite of six dances from the 1920 ballet Le Astuzie Femminili; and Les Fâcheux. During the Monte Carlo season, Diaghilev also produced the operas La Colombe; Le Médecin Malgré Lui; Philémon et Baucis; and Une Education Manquée.

    The ballet La Nuit sur le Mont Chauve (Night on Bare Mountain) premieres in April at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo and the ballet Le Train Blue premieres in late June at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris.

    George Balanchine joins Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes as a dancer.

    English dancer Vera Savina [Vera Clark] joins the Ballets Russes and becomes a principal dancer in 1927. In 1921 Savina marries dancer/choreographer Léonide Massine.

  • 1925

    During February and March, the Ballets Russes premiere three new ballets at the Nouvelle Salle de Musique, Monte Carlo: Le Festin; Les Contes de Fées, a suite of dances from act 3 of The Sleeping Princess; L'Assemblée; and Le Bal du 'Lac des Cygnes', a suite of dances from the full-length ballet Swan Lake.

    In April, the ballet Zéphire et Flore premieres at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo and, in June, Les Matelots opens at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique, Paris. Barabau premieres in December at London's Coliseum Theatre.

  • 1926

    Romeo and Juliet premieres in early May at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo. La Pastorale and Jack-in-the-Box both premiere during the Ballets Russess May-June season at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris.

    The Triumph of Neptune premieres in early December at London's Lyceum Theatre.

  • 1927

    In April, the Ballet Russes premieres La Chatte at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo. Two ballets premiere during the company's May-June season at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris: Mercure and Le Pas d'Acier. Diaghilev also produces Igor Stravinsky's opera Oedipus Rex.

  • 1928

    The Ballets Russes premieres two new ballets during June at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris: Ode and Apollon Musagète.

    The Gods Go A-Begging premieres in July at His Majesty's Theatre, London.

  • 1929

    Two new ballets premiere during the last season of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Le Bal opens in May at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo and Les Fils Prodigue (Prodigal Son) premieres in late May at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, Paris.

    Serge Diaghilev dies on 19 August in Venice.