George Balanchine, whose name was later synonymous with the New York City Ballet, began his career with Les Ballets Russes. There were several pictures as illustrations, and we were referred to a unique, and only recently discovered, film of Les Ballets Russes in rehearsal.
The financial perils of running a ballet company were not ignored. Diaghilev had been able to call on friends and family connections for patronage; however that source was not inexhaustible, and financial ruin was never far away. Diaghilev himself lived sparingly in a hotel room; even so, when he died, his friends had to club together to pay his bill.
After Diaghilev's death, Les Ballets Russes had several subsequent incarnations, even at one time as two different companies, run as rivals by Colonel de Basil (The Original Ballets Russes) and René Blum (Les Ballets Russes de Montecarlo). There were, of course, financial constraints, as well as the immense problems of the Second World War. Colonel de Basil's company folded in 1952, and Les Ballets Russes de Montecarlo went bankrupt in 1968.
Although Les Ballets Russes no longer exist, their legacy lives on. Their influence on design, choreography and style was immense, and has had lasting effects on ballet today.
After a short demonstration of barre exercise, Rachel answered questions, and there were many of those, indicating just how much interest there had been in the subject. There were many favourable comments as members left, the best one being “Another triumph!”
Reviewer: Hilary HEADLEY