What it's about.
A biographical excerpt on the life of Russian ballet trailblazer, Sergei Diaghilev.
It was a delight to return to the Classic Stage Company, as my inaugural post took place here as well. That being said, I found it fascinating to see how the theatre got transformed to accommodate this production. I went into this show with an open mind and heart, excited to see what was in store for me.
Except it's 1900’s Russia.
Sergei Diaghilev, an impresario (AKA a dance producer/director) is starting a dance company, the Ballets Russes. The Ballet Russes, AKA Russian Ballet, was a world renowned dance company that lasted until Sergei’s death in 1929. Though the company in no longer in existence, its influence and impact are still prevalent to this day. TBH guys, if it wasn’t for the program notes provided by the dramaturge, I wouldn't have known about any of this. But hey, now I can let you know!
Anyways, in short the Ballet Russes was Diaghilev’s legacy.
The play however maps out his earlier years in founding this company. Alongside the world's greatest dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky, he creates what it one of the most legendary dance companies of all time.
Aside from being his dancer, Nijinsky is also Sergei’s lover. Also, did I mention he's the GOD of dance?!
Young, beautiful, and ambitious, Nijinsky takes risks. For example, in a dance called "The Afternoon of a Faun" (once again, #bless the program notes which were my cheat sheet), he masturbates to a scarf in front of an unsuspecting audience. Very spontaneous, indeed.
In which case, the Sergei has the following to say to Nijinsky:
“We rehearse spontaneity so that it appears that way on stage. We do not create it on stage!!!”
This moment reminded me of a very good friend of mine. Let's call him Fabio. I was in a play with Fabio, in which, for opening night, he ripped off his pants mid scene. The whole thing was indeed SPONTANEOUS. The audience reacted with laughter. However, in Nijinsky's case, well….he got booed off!
Part of what Nijinsky and Sergei were doing with the Ballets Russes was reinventing tradition. They did something that had never been done before. They reinvented standards, and it was something the audience was not accustomed to seeing, so they booed! They feared the unknown.
Sergei was a trailblazer and risk-taker for his time. There was no stopping him. He was truly a force to be reckoned with.
Life is about taking risks. Sometimes, taking a risk can be the best thing you've ever done. I guess you’ll never know until you try.
Just look at Sergei’s legacy, which still lives on 89 years after his death.
Sergei was a force of nature. He was fire and air. With his passion, his eternal flame, he took the world by storm and transformed the world of dance as we know it today. And like nature, he was unpredictable and knew no boundaries. In the words of Freddie Mercury (cue sing along):
🎶I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me🎶
Sergei was unstoppable.
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