There’s still time to see the magnificent exhibition of “Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes 1909 - 1929, When Art Danced with Music” in the East Wing of the National Gallery. If you haven’t seen it, and live in the Washington area, or are visiting Washington in early October, don’t miss this opportunity to see what Serge Diaghilev created in the early twentieth century. The exhibit closes on October 6.
The exhibition is a combination of music, dance, sketches, photos, paintings, and costumes. Diaghilev sought the collaboration or artists, composers, choreographers, dancers and fashion designers for his dance company’s presentations. He did so by hiring artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Giorgio de Chirico, Leon Bakst and Natalia Goncharova to design the sets and costumes. The music for the ballets was written by such avant garde composers as Serge Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Eric Satie and Claude Debussy. Michel Fokine and Leonide Massine were among his choreographers. And his dancers included Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky.
The result was a ground breaking collaboration, presented in the show at the National Gallery with 150 original costumes, set designs, pantings, prints, drawings, photographs, posters and film clips in a multi-media presentation.
The costumes are fabulous, full of color and extraordinary detail, made of beautiful silks and cottons. They represent a combination of Russian folk lore and cubist concepts. Throughout the exhibit are videos of the dances created by the company, performed by the Joffroy Ballet, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, wearing the costumes seen in the exhibit. Among the videos is an excerpt of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, danced with the original costumes. It’s as thrilling as it must have been for the audience who first saw it in Paris a century ago.
To complement the Diaghilev exhibit, Chef Michel Richard has created a Russian themed menu for the Garden Cafe in the West Wing of the National Gallery. Included on the buffet, priced at $20.75, are blini with caviar, grilled eggplant with lemon and greens, celery root salad with remoulade and dried apples, beef stroganoff, salmon coulibiac, Russian black bread, borscht and strawberries Romanoff.
The beef Stroganoff and the salmon, as well as a trio of lentil, celery root and eggplant salads are available a la carte for $14 each. The strawberries can be ordered a la carte for $8.
The Russian menu will be available until the close of the exhibit on October 6th.