Over this past weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting the exhibit “Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes, 1909-1924: When Art Danced with Music” at the National Gallery of Art. For lovers of the ballet, music, costume and set design this exhibit has it all. It takes you on a colorful and inspiring journey through the world of Serge Diaghilev and his famous Ballet Russes.
I walked away from the exhibit not knowing what I loved more, the actual costumes or the original paintings of set and costume designs by Leon Bakst.
Bakst was born in Russia in 1866 and began his studies at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts and later at the Academie Julian in Paris. Through his years in Paris he met Diaghilev and became a part of his artistic circle. In 1908 he began designing sets and costumes for the Ballet Russes until 1922. During that time he created the visual worlds for many of the companies most famous ballets, including Cleopatra (1909), Scheherazade (1910), Carnaval (1910), Narcisse (1911), L’apre-midi d’un faun (1912) and Daphne and Chloe (1912). Many of the set designs and costumes for these ballets are on exhibit.