2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Ballets Russes by Sergei Diaghilev. The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies will celebrate the centennial of this milestone in cultural history with a symposium of events, featuring films, talks, discussions and an exhibition of original costumes and scene designs.
The event will feature "Once Upon A Ballet: Russia‘s Classic Fairy Tales and the Ballets Russes," a lecture by Thomas Garza, chair of the Slavic studies department.
In creating some of the most opulent productions of the Ballets Russes, its musical and artistic directors turned to Russia's rich tradition of the literary fairytale as source material. Borrowing from several of Pushkin's and Zhukovsky’s reworkings of traditional folk motifs, Diaghilev's company transformed the stage into a fantastic world, adding the aural and kinetic elements of music and dance to the tales. From early productions, such as “The Firebird” (1910) and “The Golden Cockerel” (1914), to later performances like “The Sleeping Princess” (1921), the creative genius of composers Stravisnky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky, choreographers Fokine and Petipa, and designers Bakst and Golovin reimagined motifs and themes of Russian fairytales as artistic creations for the New Century.