The Ballets Russes's wild success in Europe and the international fame of its star dancers stirred the imaginations of Americans across the country, many of whom knew little about the company beyond reports of scandalous premiers in Paris and pictures in Vanity Fair and Vogue. When Diaghilev arrived in the United States without Nijinsky and Karsavina, the fashionable dance troupe seemed to have lost some of the splendor seen in glossy magazines. Poor box office receipts, unfamiliar venues and audiences, exhausted and poorly paid musicians and dancers, and mixed reviews in the press did not help. But the reception of the Ballets Russes in America was more multifaceted than a cursory glance at the reviews may suggest. While we cannot deny that Diaghilev's US tour failed to live up to expectations, it is important to remember that what might constitute a flop for one audience may be a revelation...
Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in the American Midwest
Dr. Samuel N. Dorf is associate professor of music and associate director of the Honors Program at the University of Dayton. A musicologist and dance historian, his monograph Performing Antiquity: Ancient Greek Music and Dance from Paris to Delphi, 1890–1935 (2019) examines the performance and reinvention of ancient Greek music and dance in fin-de-siècle Paris and queer music reception.
Samuel N. Dorf; Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in the American Midwest. American Music 1 December 2021; 39 (4): 409–427. doi: https://doi.org/10.5406/19452349.39.4.02
Download citation file: