This article is about Nijinska's ballet to Poulenc's music. For the film, see Les Biches (film). For the commune in France, see Biches.
Les biches is a ballet by Bronislava Nijinska to music by Francis Poulenc, premiered by the Ballets Russes in 1924. The composer, who was at the time relatively unknown, was asked by Serge Diaghilev to write a piece based on Glazunov's Les Sylphides, written seventeen years earlier. Poulenc, however, chose to base his work on the paintings of Watteau that depicted Louis XV and various women in his "Parc aux biches"; the word biche usually translated as hind, or a female deer. Poulenc described his work as a "contemporary drawing room party suffused with an atmosphere of wantonness, which you sense if you are corrupted, but of which an innocent-minded girl would not be conscious." Diaghilev recognized the great potential of the ballet and produced it for the 1924 Ballet Russes season, bringing Poulenc into the forefront of French music. Les biches was well received by critics, with Henri Malherbe of Time calling it "surprisingly intimate". Poulenc continually revised the music up through the 1940s, eventually reducing it to an orchestral suite in five movements.