Celebrate the centennial of the Ballets Russes (Russia’s famous dance company) at Te Papa’s monthly arts’ evening, with a documentary, floortalk, and guest speaker.
4.30pm–5pm & 5.15pm– 5.45pm: Curator Floortalk. Sergei Dhiaghilev's Ballets Russes, formed in 1909, had an enormous impact on many artists, either directly – as designers for the ballet, such as Natalia Goncharova and Alexander Benois – or indirectly – in the swirling shapes and brilliant colours of Ann Estelle Rice's paintings or the rhythmic Vorticist compositions of David Bomberg. Join Victoria Robson, Curator European Art, to view a small collection of works influenced by the Ballets Russes.
Bookings are essential (ph 381-7000); numbers limited to 15. Ilott Room, Level 4. Free entry.
6pm–6.45pm: Anna Pavlova in New Zealand. Guest speaker Dr Ian Lochhead gives an illuminating talk on this glamorous Russian ballerina’s tour of New Zealand in 1926. Following Pavlova’s itinerary through the country from Auckland to Dunedin, Dr Lochhead will discuss the repertoire Pavlova and her company performed, the make up of her company (which included New Zealand dancers), and the responses of critics and audiences. The extensive photographic record of the tour will also be examined, along with video clips of Pavlova dancing and of Sir Frederick Ashton describing her performances.
The Marae, Level 4. Free entry.
7pm–9pm: Ballets Russes. Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, film-makers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have fashioned an entrancing ode to the revolutionary twentieth-century dance troupe known as the Ballets Russes. What began as a group of Russian refugees who never danced in Russia became not one but two rival dance troupes who fought the infamous ‘ballet battles’ that consumed London society before World War II.
Ballets Russes maps the company’s Diaghilev-era beginnings in turn-of-the-century Paris, when artists such as Nijinsky, Balanchine, Picasso, Miró, Matisse, and Stravinsky united in an unparalleled collaboration. The film soars with the company’s halcyon days in the 1930s and 1940s, when the Ballets Russes toured America, astonishing audiences schooled in vaudeville with artistry never before seen, and follows its demise in the 1950s and 1960s, when rising costs, rocketing egos, outside competition, and internal mismanagement ultimately brought this revered company to its knees.
Directed with consummate invention and infused with juicy, anecdotal interviews from many of the company’s glamorous stars, Ballets Russes treats modern audiences to a rare glimpse of the singularly remarkable merger of Russian, American, European, and Latin American dancers, choreographers, composers, and designers that transformed the face of ballet for generations to come.
Soundings Theatre, Level 2. Free entry.