A unique video of The Ballet Russes has been discovered 83 years after it was recorded. The incredible find is the only known recording of the world famous ballet company, as Diaghilev famously refused to allow his company to be filmed.
The 1928 film of the company rehearsing Les Sylphides was discovered in the British Pathe online archive by a member of the London Ballet Circle with a very keen eye. The film had been mislabelled. It is believed to have been filmed at the June 1928 festival ‘Fetes de Narcisses’ in Montreaux, Switzerland. In the clip dancer Serge Lifar, plays the lead role.
Although it only lasts for a grainy 30 seconds, the video is of paramount importance in the ballet world. Diaghilev was the founder of modern ballet and his company is famed for breaking the boundaries of romantic ballet and invigorating the ballet world. Diaghilev worked with avant-garde artists such as Natalia Goncharova and composers such as Prokofiev to move ballet away from the preserve of the aristocracy to the general public.
Modern ballet companies and ballet enthusiasts have a lot to thank Diaghilev for, so being able to see his company in action is an extremely rare treat.
See the BBC’s video here.
See British Pathe’s original recording here.