There is never a dull moment in this collection of interviews with dancers associated in one way or another with the various companies collectively described as the ‘Ballets Russes’. The book tells their story from the Diaghilev period, through the de Basil, Blum and Denham years, right up to the final days of the Marquis de Cuevas’ company, and concludes with an ‘Afterword’ with John Neumeier. Tamara Karsavina, who died in 1978, is included, by means of an interview with her friend the dancer Rachel Cameron, but it is the later generations, from Alexandra Danilova (born 1903) to Maina Gielgud (born 1945) that are best represented. (more…)

The Chosen Maiden, a novel by Eva Stachniak, is difficult to place. The “chosen maiden” of the title refers at one level to the young girl chosen by a community for ritual sacrifice in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The ballet depicting this ritual was choreographed by Nijinsky; and it is Nijinsky’s sister, Bronislava Nijinska, who is the protagonist of Stachniak’s book.

It appears from Stachniak’s account that Bronislava missed dancing the role of the chosen maiden in Paris despite longing to do so. She had become pregnant just as rehearsals for Rite’s opening began and so she was unable to fulfil perhaps the deepest of her many ambitious dreams: to dance the part of the chosen maiden under her brother’s direction and for its dramatic opening. However, as the novel portrays her, Bronislava’s often sad, even tragic, life somehow carried – bore sacrificially – the many painful experiences of her birth family, her country, her profession, her gender and her personal relationships. In this respect the rejections and losses of her life represent the painful submissions of the ballet’s chosen maiden. (more…)

DANSOX presents a guest lecture by distinguished Professor Lynn Garafola (Columbia University) who will discuss her work on Bronislawa Nijinska, one of the twentieth century’s greatest modernist choreographers.  Professor Garafola will explore Nijinska’s position as Nijinsky’s sister and her career in a male-dominated group of directors and choreographers associated with the Ballets Russes.  She will also talk about the creation of iconic works of the Twenties by Nijinska including Les Noces, Les Biches, and Le Train Bleu, as well as less well-known pieces, and describe Nijinska’s ventures inside and outside the Diaghilev circle.

Date:  Thursday 10th November, 17.30-19.30

Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4

The event is free and open to all and will be followed by a drinks reception in the JdP Foyer.

You can register to attend here

To find out more about DANSOX and its programme of events:

susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk

http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/dansox

In a year of significant musical anniversaries, here is one of particular dance interest – the centenary of the shocking premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris.  Dr Susan Jones sends information of a special event celebrating this groundbreaking work at St Hilda’s College with guest speakers Dame Monica Mason and Jane Pritchard and a concert performance of the score in Stravinsky’s version for two pianos… (more…)