The Worlds of the Ballets Russes: 1909-1929
View Additional Course Information:
Including faculty, schedule, credits, CRN and location.
Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Liberal Studies
Course Number: GLIB 5144
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Liberal Arts
- Art History, Theory & Criticism
No artistic enterprise in the twentieth century brought together a greater range of creative imaginations and personalities than the Ballets Russes. During the twenty years (1909-1929) that the ballet performed in London and Paris under the dazzling directorship of Serge Diaghilev there was an unprecedented creative convergence of art and ideas, bringing together dancers, choreographers, composers, painters, fashion designers, and critics in a new vision not only of art but of the relationship between art and life. This course will provide students with an opportunity to explore collaboration across the arts in early twentieth-century Russia, France, and England, and examine themes as varied as primitivism, classicism, and populism as refracted through legendary collaborative works including Parade and The Rite of Spring. Among the figures to be studied are: painters Picasso, Matisse, and Miró; composers Stravinsky, Satie, and Ravel; dancers and choreographers Nijinsky, Nijinska, Massine, and Balanchine; fashion designers Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel; and writers Jean Cocteau, T. S. Eliot, and Roger Fry, whose philosophical discussions about the relationship between high art and popular art and the avant-garde and tradition were in part precipitated by the Ballets Russes experience. Using the world of the Ballets Russes as a key to the interdisciplinary direction of the arts in the twentieth century, we will explore a history that reaches back to Wagner’s nineteenth-century dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total art work), embraces theatrical experiments at the Bauhaus, and has affected the work of Martha Graham, Alexander Calder, and John Cage and Merce Cunningham in more recent times.
Not open to Undergraduate students.