Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

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This article is about the ballet company. For the 2005 feature documentary, see Ballets Russes (documentary).
The company performs The Nutcracker in 1940.

Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo was a ballet company created by members of the Ballets Russes in 1938 after Léonide Massine and René Blum had a falling-out with the co-founder Wassily de Basil (usually referred to as Colonel W. de Basil). De Basil then renamed his rival company The Original Ballet Russe.

The company[edit]

British dancers Frederic Franklin and Jo Savino were among those who joined the new company. Franklin danced with them from 1938–1952. In the late 1930s, Maria Tallchief, Tamara Toumanova, George Zoritch, Cyd Charisse, Marc Platt and Leon Danielian joined the company as principal dancers.

Blum was arrested on December 12, 1941 in his Parisian home, among the first Jews to be arrested in Paris by the French police after France was defeated and occupied by the German Nazis during World War II. He was held in the Beaune-la-Rolande camp, then in the Drancy deportation camp. On September 23, 1942, he was shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was later killed by the Nazis.

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo toured chiefly in the United States after World War II began. The company introduced audiences to ballet in cities and towns across the country, in many places where people had never seen classical dance. In 1968, the company went bankrupt. Before then, many of its dancers had moved on to other careers; a number started their own studios and many taught ballet in larger studios, especially in New York and other major cities.

The company's principal dancers performed with other companies, and founded dance schools and companies of their own across the United States and Europe. They taught the Russian ballet traditions to generations of Americans and Europeans.

Among the most notable was George Balanchine, who founded the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet, for which he created works for 40 years. Alexandra Danilova taught for 30 years in his School of American Ballet. Leon Danielian served as the director of the school from 1967-1980.[1] Maria Tallchief, who was one of Balanchine's wives, danced with the New York City Ballet for years and was featured in choreography he created for her.

Roya Curie, a protégé of David Lichine and premier dancer with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo International, established a school in upstate New York in 1950. Other examples were Frederic Franklin, who was a director of the National Ballet of Washington. He still advises Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as performing. Jo Savino formed the St. Paul Ballet in Minnesota.

Robert Lindgren and Sonja Tyven (who danced in the Ballet Russe under the name Sonja Taanila) opened the Lindgren-Tyven School of Ballet in Phoenix, Arizona (1959-1965). Lindgren also served as the founding dean of the influential dance school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where Tyven taught ballet (1965-1987). Lindgren left NCSA when Lincoln Kirstein invited him to be his successor as director and president of the School of American Ballet, City Ballet’s affiliate school in New York (1987-1991).[2][3]

Many dancers of the corps de ballet also taught and passed on the Russian traditions, establishing ballet studios across the United States. For example, in the late 1940s, Marian and Illaria Ladre set up their Ballet Academy in Seattle, where they taught students who went on to dance and teach in their turn. Students of theirs who had professional dance careers included James De Bolt of the Joffrey Ballet, Cyd Charisse, Marc Platt, Harold Lang, and Ann Reinking.

In 1994 Mrs. Illaria Ladre was among the first American dancers, choreographers and writers honored by receiving the newly established Vaslav Nijinsky Medal, sponsored by the Polish Artists Agency in Warsaw, for work carrying on the tradition of Nijinsky. Other awardees were Gerald Arpino, Ann Barzel, Oleg Briansky, Vladimir Dokoudovsky (1919–1998), Peter Ostwald, Richard Philp, Jennie Schulman, Mr. Turnbaugh, Anatole Vilzak and George Zoritch.[4]

A feature documentary about the company, featuring interviews with many of the dancers, was released in 2005, with the title Ballets Russes.

A Thousand Encores: Ballets Russes in Australia was a documentary screened on ABC Television on November 3, 2009, about the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's three visits to Australia between 1936 and 1940. The documentary claims that there is more footage of the Ballet Russes in Australia than anywhere else in the world. Some film was in colour, a rarity for that time.



Further reading[edit]

  • Garcia-Marquez, Vicente (1990). The Ballets Russes: Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo 1932-152. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52875-1. 
  • Sorley Walker, Kathrine (1982). De Basil's Ballets Russes. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11365-X. 
  • Anderson, Jack (1981). The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Dance Horizons. ISBN 0-87127-127-3. 

External links[edit]