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The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde

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Abstract “The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde” deals with the complex relationship between Diaghalev and the members of the Parisian avant-garde he commissioned to design sets and costumes for his productions after World War I. Despite their previous aesthetic radicalism, such artists as Gris and Derain were obliged to rein in their vanguard originality and produce work of surprising conservatism, at the urging of the impresario. Matisse attempted greater originality, but in an unsuccessful ballet. The only really avant-garde production sponsored by Diaghalev after the war was Parade, in which such luminaries as Picasso, Satie and Cocteau played a leading role. Yet ultimately, it was not Diaghalev but Rolf de Mare’s Ballet Suedois that created the most experimental productions involving dance: Relache and Entr’acte. Yet, in experimenting with new forms, de Mare, in effect, abandoned ballet for different forms of expression relying on cinematic techniques rather than classical dance.


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