Diaghilev's Ballet Russes:
Logical Artistic Revolution in Belle Epoque Paris 

Jillian Katterhagen 

by Lisa Stoiser

In 1912, a daring new ballet company called the Ballets Russes took Paris by storm with its premiere of a provocative ballet called L’après midi d’un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun). The Ballets Russes, a Russian ballet company under the direction of impresario Sergei Diaghilev, held its debut season in Paris in 1909, where it created a sensation among Parisian audiences and received enthusiastic support for its adventurous artistic and choreographic choices. Finding western audiences much more receptive to the avant-garde nature of the its creations, the company performed in Paris and around the western world from 1909-1929, collaborating with some of the greatest artists, composers, and dancers of the period to create truly revolutionary ballets. Though the Ballets Russes produced many famous works, L’après midi d’un faune stands out as one of its most radical ballets and exemplifies the collaborative artistic tradition of the Ballets Russes. It was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, composed by Claude Debussy, and designed by Léon Bakst, and truly embodied the burgeoning modernism underscoring the artistic culture of the belle époque.[1]

The Ballets Russes, and L’après midi d’un faune specifically, hold significance beyond their status as pivotal moments in dance history. A study of the creation and premiere of Faune provides an elegant narrative through which to illuminate critical features of belle époque Paris and cultural themes of early twentieth century France. This paper will evaluate three distinctive features of the period that shaped the way that the Ballets Russes grew into a product of its environment: through the coalescence of the rich availability of artists in Paris, through the Parisian performance economy, and through the unique composition of Paris audiences and their reception of the company’s works. Faune will act as a case study through which to explore these elements. Without the unique environment of belle époque Paris, the Ballets Russes could not have grown into the revolutionary symbol of modernism that it did. The company built its reputation on a radicalism that was influenced and enabled by belle époque Paris, making the Ballets Russes and its productions a significant departure from classical ballet that was logically molded by the environment in which it occurred.

The first, and most immediately relevant, aspect of belle époque Paris that molded the Ballets Russes into a world-renowned, avant-garde ballet company is the unparalleled manner in which Paris brought together the most talented, innovative artists in the world. More than any other company at the time, the Ballets Russes took advantage of the richness of the Paris art environment and its salon culture to create productions that were visually, choreographically, and musically enchanting. In the case of Faune, four men were primarily responsible for this collaboration—Sergei Diaghilev, Vaslav Nijinsky, Claude Debussy, and Léon Bakst—and each was in some way influenced by the larger artistic culture of early twentieth century Paris.

Sergei Diaghilev, the company’s Russian impresario, began his career as an art collector and exhibitionist before becoming involved with Russian operas, which allowed him to build a valuable network of artists, musicians, and dancers in St. Petersburg. The company was born out of this network and his artistic leadership in 1909, when it held its debut season in Paris after many dancers from the renowned Marinsky Theatre and choreographer Michel Fokine followed Diaghilev from Russia to Paris. The company’s identity would soon prove to hinge on Diaghilev’s decision to found it at the heart of the belle époque. For Faune specifically, Diaghilev’s contributions came from his selection of Nijinsky to choreograph the work and his coordination of the artistic talent of the ballet’s contributors into the final production. Diaghilev’s decision was controversial, because, until Faune, Michel Fokine had acted as the choreographer-in-residence of the company and Nijinsky’s selection prompted Fokine to leave the Ballets Russes. Diaghilev stood by Nijinsky (perhaps partially because the two become involved in a passionate affair), and acted as facilitator of Faune’s artistic collaboration. Diaghilev spearheaded the artistic vision of the ballet, suggesting that it be inspired by Stéphanie Mellarmé’s 1865 poem by the same title, selecting Claude Debussy’s Prelude à l’après midi d’un faune its score, and commissioning Russian painter and old friend Léon Bakst to design its costumes and set. [2]

Diaghilev’s experience in designing art exhibits, staging operas, and directing ballets thoroughly prepared him to undertake the task of uniting these artistic talents in Faune, but his understanding of Paris as the logical place in which to attempt such a daring task was equally as critical. The importance of Diaghilev’s decision to hold the Ballets Russes’s debut repertory season in Paris, and his subsequent recognition that continuing the company’s success would require the production of original ballets and an embrace of the collaborative artistic culture of Paris cannot be understated. Roger Shattuck describes the avant-garde movement embodied by the Ballets Russes in belle époque Paris as “arising out of the relationship between the restless society of la belle époque and the arts it produced,” those arts almost always a product of “painters, writers and musicians liv[ing] and work[ing] together and try[ing] their hands at each other’s arts in an atmosphere of perpetual collaboration.”[3] Few understood or exploited this as successfully as did Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, and his success hinged on this uniquely collaborative culture of twentieth century Paris.[4]

If Diaghilev provided the overarching artistic vision for Faune and Ballets Russes productions more generally, then Vaslav Nijinsky executed this vision in the most surprisingly radical way possible. By 1912, Nijinsky had already distinguished himself as one of the company’s most talented dancers, which Diaghilev recognized with his decision to name Nijinsky as Faune’s choreographer. Nijinsky’s choreography represents a definitive break from classical ballet, fully embracing ballet modernism through Faune’s unique movement design. Nijinsky’s choreography tells the story of a faun who discovers and interacts with six nymphs in the woods, only to let them escape his grasp, leaving him to satisfy his aroused sexual desires independently. He used largely two-dimensional movement and a conscious avoidance of technically complex steps to tell the scandalous tale. These choices meant that in Faune, “movement became an end in itself…as Faune went back to basics” with dancers simply walking, pivoting, and kneeling in various Euclidean forms (with only a single jump in the entire piece), all along a flat plane.[5] Equally as scandalizing was the juxtaposition between Debussy’s lyrical score and Nijinsky’s angular, staccato movement quality, which was also a clear break from the traditional use of music to instruct, rather than contradict, movement. The piece culminates in a gesture meant to indicate masturbation, adding a final dimension to the radical quality of Nijinsky’s choreography.[6]

However, for all of its artistic and moral scandal, a close examination of Nijinsky’s choreography represents not so much the creation of something purely new and independent, but rather a unique but ultimately logical progression of existing artistic trends from belle époque Paris. This is particularly seen in Nijinsky’s conscious removal of space from his choreography and his reliance on two-dimensional movement. Nijinsky challenged the tradition conception of three-dimensional movement as the basic medium of classical dance, but in a way that was parallel to the way modernist painters questioned the conventional uses of their own mediums by pushing traditional boundaries of perspective and subject. Similar parallels can be drawn between Nijinsky’s choreography and cubism, as both art forms focus on questioning the necessity of conventional perspectives and interpretive experiences and offer their audiences new ways to connect with traditional subject matter. In Nijinsky’s choreography, one can see its radical nature not as a rejection of the environment in which it was created, but rather a highly innovative extension of artistic trends already occurring in the belle époque. Nijinsky’s choreography may not have even developed into this highly unique form had he not been exposed to the artistic innovation occurring in the belle époque.[7]

The revolutionary reception of Nijinsky’s choreography depended in part on its juxtaposition to Claude Debussy’s score, Prelude à l’après midi d’un faune, a composition widely considered to be the first piece of modern music. Debussy’s role in the artistic collaboration of Faune is ironic, for he was reluctant to let his score be used for the ballet and sincerely disliked Nijinsky’s choreography. However, Debussy was widely considered to be among the most prominent belle époque composers in Paris salon circles, and Prelude represents one example of his work that sought to resist the Wagnerism movement and redefine French music for modernity. Like Nijinsky’s use of non-dance influence on his choreography, Debussy was described by colleague Erik Satie as a bohemian spirit “mak[ing] use of the means of representation which Claude Monet, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, were showing us” and incorporating extra-musical ideas into his work.[8] These influences can be seen in Prelude through Debussy’s deliberate use of woodwind instruments and complex motifs to evoke the sensual themes of the music’s inspiration, creating a tone poem reflective of Mellarmé’s original text. That Faune’s artistic development depended in large part on the collaborative Parisian environment can be seen in Debussy’s score just as clearly as in Nijinsky’s choreography. Debussy frequently attended Paris salons alongside other famed belle époque composers (including Satie and Stravinsky), as well as with painters and writers whose ideas and innovative ways of questioning tradition influenced his musical compositions. Though Debussy’s commitment to artistic innovation was carried to an unintended extent through Nijinsky’s dramatic juxtaposition of Debussy’s dreamlike music with his own obscure movement, Debussy’s place in the Paris artistic scene is no less indicative of the importance of the belle époque on the development of Faune and the Ballets Russes.[9]

by Lisa Stoiser

The final components of Faune’s exceptional artistic collaboration are Léon Bakst’s designs for the ballet’s set and costumes. Bakst had worked with Diaghilev long before working on Faune in 1911, as the men were colleagues in St. Petersburg on several art exhibits and reviews, and Bakst joined Diaghilev’s coveted circle when he moved to Paris in 1906. Bakst was the perfect choice to design Faune largely because of his love for ancient Greek art, an influence which is clear in his designs for the ballet’s shimmering, toga-like gowns for the nymphs, Greek sandals, and glass grapes covering the faun’s genitals. Bakst’s geometric frieze design for the set derives largely from Greek art, but he too was influenced by a more contemporary source. In particular, his work for Mir Iskusstva, a Russian art publication aimed at uniting traditional Russian styles with artistic trends from around the world, exposed Bakst to a variety of artistic influences. When he moved to Paris with Diaghilev, Bakst began infusing his own work with styles in vogue in Paris salons, including the avant-garde fascination with orientalism, the embellished curves of art nouveau, as well as ancient Greek themes. These influences are evident in his designs for Faune, as his costumes reflect Greek silhouettes with bright oriental patterns and his backdrop presents a landscape that evokes images of oriental scenery while employing more dynamic, curving lines that are characteristic of the art nouveau movement. Bakst’s exposure to these influences was again a product of his presence in the Paris salon scene, where he was exposed to and celebrated in Mir Iskusstva the works of Henry Toulouse-Lautrec and other artists that fueled his fusion of these various artistic trends in Faune.[10]

Bakst’s designs, combined with Nijinsky’s revolutionary choreography, Debussy’s modern score, and Diaghilev’s artistic vision, coalesced to create a ballet that was conceptually daring in every way. L’après midi d’un faune stunned audiences with its audacious artistic decisions and notable abandonment of conventional ballet features, but its radicalism is perhaps less surprising than its initial reception might suggest. Although Faune represented a dramatic step into the realm of ballet modernism, the four men responsible for its creation made artistic choices that were heavily influenced by the creative atmosphere of belle époque Paris and collaborated in concert with the period’s energetic artistic community. This made the ballet less a departure from the past than one logically, if innovatively, derived from it. The unique environment of the belle époque specifically enabled this artistic collaboration and thus molded Faune and Ballets Russes into the cohesive artistic vision for which it became famous.

The second key aspect of the belle époque that fostered the development of the Ballets Russes in a distinctly Parisian way was the specific business environment for the performing arts in twentieth century Paris. The development of the Ballets Russes relied on the specific nature of Paris’s artistic economy to break into the performance market, especially because the heavily bureaucratic nature of the Russian ballet economy meant that it would be near impossible for a company like the Ballets Russes to do so in a market dominated by the Marinsky Theatre. Diaghilev’s skill at securing financial backing from financiers in Paris as well as the loyalties of performers who were disenchanted with the Russian Imperial ballet system enabled him to create this new ballet company in Paris in 1909. This provided the base from which the Ballets Russes could pursue such innovative works as Faune and exploit the dearth of respected ballet companies in the West to create an entirely new market for the “new ballet” it was creating.[11]

Belle époque Paris again proved critical to the development of the Ballets Russes, this time in terms of financial viability instead of artistic cooperation, in particular because of the way its performance economy was based around an enterprising operatic marketplace full of impresarios ready to underwrite daring new performances. Collaboration played a role here too, as producer and manager of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Gabriel Astruc befriended Diaghilev and guided him through the Parisian system to establish his company as a force on the Paris dance scene. Astruc recognized the market potential of Diaghilev’s innovative company and capitalized on the serious debt incurred by the Ballets Russes’s premiere 1909 season at the Châtelet Théâtre by underwriting subsequent performances. In concert with Astruc, Diaghilev signed a contract with the Paris Opéra for a season in 1910, which precipitated successful negotiations with major opera house directors throughout Paris from 1910-1914 and established the “economic foundation for a permanent troupe.”[12] This enabled Diaghilev to sign contracts with dancers and to secure permission from Debussy to use Prelude à l’après midi d’un faune for Nijinsky’s debut work. Paris’s operatic marketplace, and Diaghilev’s navigation of it, depended on a growing sector of innovative performing arts in Paris that were largely funded by impresario investment rather than mainstream, government-subsidized productions. Paris’s business culture was unique in this respect, and it allowed “independent mavericks of the musical world” like Astruc and Diaghilev, who possessed “innovation-minded artistic ideals,” reflections “of their status as outsiders and a means of gaining social and professional legitimacy,” to attain artistic success.[13]

Astruc was the Jewish son of a rabbi, and his involvement with Diaghilev reflected a broader trend among prominent Jewish bankers to finance performing troupes like the Ballets Russes. It seems fitting that these relatively marginalized members of a somewhat anti-Semitic society played a large role in assimilating this outsider ballet company into the throes of aristocratic Parisian culture. As the Ballets Russes’s first few seasons were widely acclaimed, the Paris aristocracy took notice, and Diaghilev succeeded in securing significant funding from elite patrons including Aga Khans, Comtesse Greffuhles, and Lady Cunards. This too was a function of Diaghilev’s successful manipulation of belle époque society to suit his new company’s financial needs. It was well within the societal norms of elite Parisian patrons of the arts to prevail upon friends to purchase boxes for seasons at the opera, to host charity benefits, or to throw extravagant premieres for new works. The spectacular nature of Diaghilev’s artistic triumphs leant themselves perfectly to this atmosphere, and sponsorship by Parisian elites largely sustained the company throughout its time in Paris. At the time, ballet was in decline in Paris, with the growing sentiment that a night at the ballet was more often than not an attempt by French officials to spend an evening in the company of a ballerina after the curtain fell. The daring artistic choices of the Ballets Russes and its opulent designs, costumes, scores, and all around sensational spectacles filled a gap in the Parisian performance economy by supplying patrons with a reason to revive the dying art and illustrate the influence of the belle époque on the Ballets Russes.[14]

Faune in particular represents an important element of Diaghilev’s adaptation to Paris’s performance marketplace because it highlights the commodification of his dancers and their art. The audacious projects of the Ballets Russes created an entirely new market for Russian ballet in Paris, and with it came seemingly insatiable demand for the company’s stars, none more than Nijinsky himself. These forces of supply and demand shaped the company in surprising ways, forcing the once itinerant troupe to search for more permanent engagements, to reevaluate its division of labor from a company hierarchy to one based on salary, and to cast performances largely in response to public demand for particular artists. Faune, and especially is feature of Nijinsky as both debut choreography and principle dancer, is one of the clearest responses to market pressures in Paris as Diaghilev sought to capitalize on the public demand for his star dancer.  Faune represents a shift in ballet history, as dancers themselves became valuable property that was just as economically potent as was choreography, music and designs. The Ballets Russes was uniquely positioned to adapt to this, especially with Nijinsky’s choreographic debut, because it divorced the success of performances and dancers from a reliance on a ballet master and a cohesive technique within the company. With Nijinsky’s minimalist movement quality, it was incumbent on the dancers, not a ballet master, to distinguish themselves as ballet stars and appeal to belle époque audiences.[15]

It is no coincidence that Nijinsky began work on Faune just as Diaghilev began negotiations to launch the Ballets Russes as an independent company. Nijinsky’s emergence as a modern choreographer, a style that was truly independent of an imperial-bred technique and free to explore contemporary artistic trends, grew out of Paris’s capitalist marketplace for performance. Diaghilev’s decision to permanently establishing the Ballets Russes indicates his dedication to codifying this new artistic economy. Paris in the 1910s again molded the development of the company through its particular market structure and dearth of esteemed ballet companies. The unique performance economy of belle époque Paris enabled the company to carve out a niche in the market all for its own, making the financial development of the Ballets Russes just as much a product of its environment as was its artistic development.[16]

The final way in which the belle époque profoundly influenced the development of the Ballets Russes is in the distinctive quality of Parisian audiences and their surprising reception of the company’s performances. Faune again provides a fitting lens through which to understand these audiences, for its premiere still stands in dance memory as one of the most dramatic scandales to ever capture Parisian society. The Ballets Russes drew a highly varied audience, including members of the Parisian elite, government officials, the professional bourgeoisie, musical connoisseurs, artists, and foreign cosmopolites, all of whom became the new consumers of Diaghilev’s commoditized ballet. Parisian audiences and their taste for innovation and flair created the perfect atmosphere in which a company as experimental as the Ballets Russes could flourish. The opinions and preferences of this eclectic crowd profoundly influenced the Ballets Russes, primarily because appealing to these groups would economically sustain the company and because favorable criticism in Paris newspapers would serve to build it an international reputation. The unique mindset of people in belle époque Paris yet again meant that the Ballets Russes grew into a product of its environment, as the popular reception of Faune will show.[17] 

The immediate reception of Faune stands as a seminal moment in ballet history after the curtain fell on its debut on May 29, 1912 in the Paris Châtelet Théâtre. The production ended following Nijinsky’s masturbatory gesture and was met with a moment of stunned silence before the audience erupted into an uproarious mixture of applause and catcalling. Diaghilev insisted that the ballet immediately be performed again, and at the close of the second run, it was met with committed applause from the audience. For all of the bold choices made in Faune, including Nijinsky’s abandonment of classical ballet technique, his harsh treatment of Debussy’s score, and the overtly sexual, and in some ways predatory, subject matter, the ballet was considered to be highly controversial by its viewers. However, the open-mindedness of Parisian theatregoers prevailed, and their willingness to embrace Faune as an artistic triumph proved essential to the ballet’s success and was a product of the culture of the belle époque. [18]

Fittingly for Diaghilev and his fearless artistic vision, the belle époque fostered a critical attitude within its art patrons and viewers that enabled the Ballets Russes to succeed through its societal commitment to assimilating the unconventional. The avant-garde movement, of which the Ballets Russes was undoubtedly a part, grew out of an almost-universal sentiment in artistic Parisian society that “the banquet [the belle époque] called for gaiety and scorn of convention, and also for an assimilation of popular art forms and a full aliveness to the present moment.”[19] Faune embodied all aspects of this attitude in the way that it utilized popular art trends of the time, which of course meant throwing off long-standing traditions and compelling its audience to acknowledge an intimacy that both shocked and entranced them.  Faune’s coalescence of Bakst’s designs, Debussy’s modernist music, and Nijinsky’s radical choreography was shaped by their participation in these “Banquet Years” of Paris, in particular their attendance attendance at the most respected Paris salons, their collaborations and inspirations with members of the Parisian artist elite, and the general sense that the art they were creating was part of a larger, even more daring movement sweeping the entire society. Paris was unique in the way its audiences embraced these belle époque banquet ideals, and they molded Faune and the Ballets Russes into a company committed to espousing these lofty goals.[20]

Just as he was critical to Diaghilev’s securing of financial backing, Astruc also proved essential to the cultivation of this receptive and excitable audience as he rose to the challenge of acting as the Ballets Russes producer. He helped Diaghilev build a network within the Parisian bourgeoisie that become both the financial backbone and core audience for his productions. In every aspect, this cultivated audience proved highly receptive to “both the exoticism and musical sophistication of Diaghilev’s earliest dance productions,” achieved primarily because of the rich reserves of art enthusiasts of all shades in Paris, ready to consume new and exciting performances.[21] Diaghilev and his artists consciously infused their work with controversial artistic choices intended to surprise audiences and arouse the interest of people who otherwise would not have been involved in the dance world. The Ballets Russes used the open-mindedness of belle époque Parisians to explore broader themes regarding the place of art and sexuality in the modern in world in its works, compelling its audiences to grapple with these relevant questions.[22]

Beyond the general receptiveness of these open-minded ballet-goers, the belle époque also shaped the Ballets Russes because of the critical acclaim that professional dance critics gave to Faune and Diaghilev’s other works. The critical reception of Faune stands out among the company’s works of that time (although was later eclipsed by the outrage at The Rite of Spring), because of the public debate it sparked in Parisian newspapers over the artistic merits of the piece. The vast majority of Parisian newspapers bestowed favorable reviews on Nijinsky’s debut work, with the daily performance newspaper Commedia devoting many of its pages to photographs of its bold designs. However, one notable exception to this reception was an editorial published in Le Figaro by Gaston Calmette. Titled “Un faux pas,” Calmette’s review lambasted Diaghilev and Nijinsky, describing the ballet as only depicting “a lecherous faun, whose movements are filthy and bestial in their eroticism, and whose gestures are as crude as they are indecent. That is all.”[23] His disparaging review was answered by another of Paris’s prominent members of the artistic scene, Auguste Rodin, who proclaimed in Le Matin that Faune was to be “a noble endeavor [that] should be understood as a whole; and that…that Théâtre de Châtelet would arrange others to which all our artists might come to for inspiration and to communicate in beauty.”[24] The artistic debate between Calmette and Rodin sparked a political controversy, as public opinion quickly formulated to understand this disagreement as indicative of a broader rift between the men and their support for the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892. The scandal escalated, culminating the formation of a presidential commission that ultimately found the sexual nature of Faune to be tolerable and it was allowed to continue to run in Paris for the remainder of the season. This dramatic response to Faune indicates the potent feelings the ballet produced in its audiences, as well as the extent to which art affected broad aspects of society in Paris. Precisely because Parisian society was so open to the effects of art that challenges society, the Ballets Russes was empowered to make these daring decisions and grow into its final form.[25]

by Lisa Stoiser

Just as the belle époque profoundly affected the artistic development and financial foundation of the Ballets Russes, the Parisian audiences that attended the captivating performances of the company shaped and were shaped by its works. Because a fair portion of Diaghilev’s concern during the earlier years of the company’s existence was devoted to its economic survival, the preferences and expectations of the audience, the consumers, was a critical element of the company’s artistic decisions. The belle époque attitude favoring daring and unconventional artistic choices and the way Ballets Russes rapidly embraced this avant-garde tradition meant that Parisian audiences and the Ballets Russes emerged as the perfect pairing. Once more, the belle époque provided a singular atmosphere in which the Ballets Russes could truly flourish in a way that was heavily directed by its environment.

Understanding the development of the Ballets Russes relies on understanding the cultural atmosphere in which it was created. Belle époque Paris offered Diaghilev and his daring vision for a modern ballet company the perfect setting in which to experiment with audacious choices and stage bold works. The company soon became famous worldwide for its penchant for throwing off the shackles of convention and wholeheartedly embracing a bold new future of music, dance, and design. However, for all its abandonment of tradition, the Ballets Russes was profoundly influenced by the belle époque, and its early success depended on how it grew within the burgeoning artistic trends of early twentieth century Paris. The belle époque tradition of encouraging artistic collaboration and innovation in the Paris salons, the operatic marketplace’s favorable environment for newcomers, and the unique composition and mindset of theatre audiences in Paris all combined to create an incredibly favorable environment for the birth of the Ballets Russes and guided its growth in every aspect. While the Ballets Russes was undoubtedly revolutionary, it was so within the context of one of the richest periods of artistic creation in history, making it an entirely logical and ultimately glorious artistic revolution.

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Bakst, Léon. Costume Design for a nymph from L’après midi d’un faune. 1912. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

 Bakst, Léon. Costume for a nymph. 1912. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Bakst, Léon. Nijinsky as the Faun from L’après midi d’un faune. 1912. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Bakst, Léon. Scene From L’après midi d’un faune—Mesdames Boniecka, Sokolova, Pflanz,           Waailewska and others. 1916. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Buckle, Richard. Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.

Caddy, Davinia. The Ballet Russes and Beyond: Music and Dance in Belle Époque Paris. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Debussy, Claude. Prelude à l’après midi d’un faune. 1894. Symphony Orchestra of Montreal, conducted by Charles Eduard Dutoit. Mp4 file. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYyK922PsUw (accessed November 20, 2014).

Garafola, Lynn. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Jarvinen, Hanna. “Dancing Without Space: On Nijinsky’s ‘L’après midi d’un Faune’ (1912).” Dance Research: The Jounral of the Society for Dance Research 27 (2009), 28-64.

McAuliffe, Mary Sperling. The Twilight of the Belle Époque: the Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein and their Friends though the Great War. Lanham, Maryland: Rowan and Littlefield, 2014.

Meyer, Baron Adolf de. L’après midi d’un faune: Thirty Three Photographs by Baron Adolf de Meyer. New York: Dance Horizons, 1983.

Nureyev, Rudolph, with Charlene Gehm, Cameron Basden, Ursula Burke, Lynne Chervony, Krystyna Jurkowski, Patricia Miller and Carole Valleskey. L’après midi d’un faune. Choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. The Joffrey Ballet, Chicago, 1980. Mp4 file. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GqGVkfUip8 (accessed November 20, 2014).     

Potter, Michelle. “Designed for Dance: The Costumes of Léon Bakst and the Art of Isadora Duncan.” Dance Chronicle 13 (1990), 154-169.      

Shattuck, Roger. The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France 1885 to World War I. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1961.


[1] Richard Buckle, Nijinsky: A Life of Genius and Madness (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971), 237-245; Davinia Caddy, The Ballets Russes and Beyond: Music and Dance in Belle Époque Paris (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 67-68.

[2] Buckle, Nijinsky, 164-165.

[3] Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France 1885 to World War I (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1961), 29-30.

[4] Diaghilev, Creator of the Ballets Russes: Art, Music, Dance, edited by Ann Kodicek, Rosamund Bartlett, Tomoko Sato, and Lucy Myers (New York: Barbican Art Gallery, 1996) 11-19; Buckle, Nijinsky, 164-165; Mary Sperling McAuliffe, The Twilight of the Belle Époque: the Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein and their Friends through the Great War (Lanham, Maryland: Rowan and Littlefield, 2014), 186-187.

[5] Lynn Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 57.

[6] Rudolph Nureyev, with Charlene Gehm, Cameron Basden, Ursula Burke, Lynne Chervony, Krystyna Jurkowski, Patricia Miller and Carole Valleskey, L’Après midi d’un faune, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky (The Joffrey Ballet; Chicago, 1980), Mp4 file, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GqGVkfUip8 (accessed November 20, 2014);  Baron Adolf de Meyer, L’Après midi d’un faune: Thirty Three Photographs by Baron Adolf de Meyer (New York: Dance Horizons, 1983); Buckle, Nijinsky, 235-237; Caddy, The Ballets Russes and Beyond, 98-103.

[7] Nureyev, L’après midi d’un faune; Caddy, The Ballets Russes and Beyond, 98-103; Hanna Jarvinen, “Dancing Without Space: On Nijinsky’s ‘L’après midi d’un faune’ (1912),” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 27 (2009), 1-3, 35-41.

[8] Shattuck, The Banquet Years, 131.

[9] McAuliffe, The Twilight of the Belle Époque, 229-230; Shattuck, The Banquet Years, 114, 121-123; Claude Debussy, Prelude à l’après midi d’un faune, 1894, Symphony Orchestra of Montreal, conducted by Charles Eduard Dutoit, Mp4 file, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYyK92 2PsUw (accessed November 20, 2014); Buckle, Nijinsky, 238-240.

[10] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 52-53; Michelle Potter, “Designed for Dance: The Costumes of Léon Bakst and the Art of Isadora Duncan,” Dance Chronicle 13 (1990), 154-156; Léon Bakst, Costume Designs for L’après midi d’un faune, 1912, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

[11] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 175-177; Shattuck, The Banquet Years, 9-12.

[12] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 180.

[13] Ibid., 181.

[14] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 175-188, 278-279. McAuliffe, The Twilight of the Belle Époque, 229-234.

[15] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 188-198.

[16] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 197-200.

[17] Ibid., 278-280.

[18] Buckle, Nijinsky, 240-244; Caddy, The Ballets Russes and Beyond, 67-73.

[19] Shattuck, The Banquet Years, 27.

[20] Ibid., 26-31.

[21] Garafola, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 286.

[22] Ibid., 277-285; Jarvinen, “Dancing Without Space,” 28-29.

[23] Buckle, Nijinsky, 242.

[24] Ibid., 243-244.

[25] Ibid., 241-250; Caddy, The Ballets Russes and Beyond, 71-73.