Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo)

Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo
General information
NameBallet Russe de Monte-Carlo
Year founded1937
FoundersLéonide Massine and René Blum
Principal venuevarious
Senior staff
Company managerSol Hurok
Artistic staff
Artistic DirectorSerge Denham (c. 1943–1968)
Ballet MasterFrederic Franklin (1944–1952)
Resident ChoreographersLéonide Massine (1937–1943)
Associated schoolsSchool of American Ballet
  • Principal
  • Soloist
  • Corps de Ballet
The company performs The Nutcracker in 1940.

The company Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo (with a plural name) was formed in 1932 after the death of Sergei Diaghilev and the demise of Ballets Russes. Its director was Wassily de Basil (usually referred to as Colonel W. de Basil), and its artistic director was René Blum. They fell out in 1936 and the company split. The part which de Basil retained went through two name changes before becoming the Original Ballet Russe. Blum founded Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, which changed its name to Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (note the singular) when Léonide Massine became artistic director in 1938. It operated under this name until it disbanded some 20 years later.[1]

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo featured such dancers as Ruthanna Boris, Frederic Franklin, Alexandra Danilova, Maria Tallchief, Nicholas Magallanes,[2] Lois Bewley,[3] Tamara Toumanova, George Zoritch, Alicia Alonso, Elissa Minet, Yvonne Joyce Craig, Nina Novak, Raven Wilkinson, Meredith Baylis, Cyd Charisse, Marc Platt, Nathalie Krassovska, Irina Baronova, Leon Danielian, and Anna Adrianova. The company's resident choreographer was Massine; it also featured the choreography of Michel Fokine, Bronislava Nijinska, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Ruth Page and Valerie Bettis. Their costumes in the first season were made by Karinska,[4] and were designed by Christian Bérard, André Derain, and Joan Miró.[4]

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo toured chiefly in the United States and Canada 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. 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.


Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo initially began because Léonide Massine, the choreographer of Colonel Wassily de Basil's Ballets Russes, desired to be more than just Colonel Wassily de Basil's right-hand man. De Basil was the artistic director of his Ballet Russes, and Massine desired that position, so he broke off to start his own company.[5]

Blum and de Basil fell out in 1934, and their Ballets Russes partnership dissolved.[6] After working desperately to keep ballet alive in Monte Carlo, in 1937 Blum and former Ballets Russes choreographer Léonide Massine acquired financing from Julius Fleischmann Jr.'s World Art, Inc. to create a new ballet company.[7]

At the start of Blum and Massine's company, Massine ran into trouble with Col. de Basil: the ballets which Massine choreographed while under contract with Col. de Basil were owned by his company. Massine sued Col. de Basil in London to regain the intellectual property rights to his own works. He also sued to claim the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo name.[8] The jury decided that Col. de Basil owned Massine's ballets created between 1932 and 1937, but not those created before 1932.[9] It also ruled that both successor companies could use the name Ballet Russe — but only Massine & Blum's company could be called Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo. Col. de Basil finally settled on the Original Ballet Russe.[8]

The new Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo gave its first performance in 1938. Costumes were designed by British dancers Frederic Franklin and Jo Savino were also among those who joined the new company. Franklin danced with the company from 1938 to 1952, assuming the role of ballet master in 1944. With the company, Franklin and Alexandra Danilova created one of the legendary ballet partnerships of the twentieth century.

Maria Tallchief and Frederic Franklin in a 1955 advertisement for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

Sol Hurok, manager of de Basil's company since 1934, ended up managing Blum's company as well. He hoped to reunite the two ballet companies, but he was unsuccessful.

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Original Ballet Russe often performed near each other. In 1938, both the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Original Ballet Russe performed in London within blocks of each other.[8] Hurok continued to have the companies perform near each other. After London, Hurok booked both of the companies to perform seasons in New York, for a total of fifteen weeks, making it the longest ballet season of New York. Along with management, the two companies also shared dancers.

Co-founder René Blum was arrested on December 12, 1941, in his Paris 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,[10][11] where he was later killed by the Nazis.[6]

With Blum gone, Serge Denham, one of the co-founders of World Art, took over as company director.[12]

Massine left the company in 1943.

Based in New York from 1944 to 1948, the company's regular home was New York City Center.

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.



Many of the company's principal dancers and corps de ballet founded dance schools and companies of their own across the United States and Europe, teaching the Russian ballet traditions to generations of Americans and Europeans.

Choreographers and principal dancers[edit]

Corps de ballet[edit]

  • Marian and Illaria Ladre — in the late 1940s, they set up the 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 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.[28]
  • Lubov Roudenko — Former soloist for the Ballets Russes in the 1930s, she left in the 1940s and, as Luba Marks, became a successful Coty Award winning fashion designer.[29]
  • Elissa Minet — danced for one season with the Ballets Russes in 1937 before joining the ballet company at the Metropolitan Opera.[30]

In popular culture[edit]

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



  1. ^ Koegler, Horst, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet (1st English edition, 1977).
  2. ^ [1] Nicholas Magallanes Obituary – performed with Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo (1943–1946) on
  3. ^ Weber, Bruce (November 29, 2012). "Lois Bewley, Multifaceted Ballerina, Dies at 78". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b "Barbara Karinska: Costume Couturier". Dance Teacher. November 9, 2008. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  5. ^ Cohen, Selma Jeanne (2005). "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo". The international Encyclopedia of Dance. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517369-7.
  6. ^ a b Homans, Jennifer. "René Blum: Life of a Dance Master," New York Times (July 8, 2011).
  7. ^ "Blum Ballet Sold to Company Here," New York Times (Nov. 20, 1937).
  8. ^ a b c Andros, Gus Dick (February 1997). "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo". Andros on Ballet. Michael Minn. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  9. ^ australiadancing[usurped] through the Internet Archive
  10. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2002). The Routledge Atlas of the Holocaust. Psychology Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-415-28145-4.
  11. ^ The Trial of Adolf Eichmann, Session 32 (Part 5 of 5) Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Georges Wellers testimony at the trial of Eichmann.
  12. ^ "The Company’s Metamorphosis," Russian Ballet History: Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, 1909–1929. Accessed March 25, 2015.
  13. ^ Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo (New York: Dance Horizons, 1981), p. 281.
  14. ^ Frederic Franklin, interviewed by John Mueller, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 2004; bonus material on Gaîté Parisienne, a film (1954) by Victor Jessen on DVD (Pleasantville, N.Y.: Video Artists International, 2006).
  15. ^ Balanchine and Mason, 101 Stories of the Great Ballets (1989), p. 183.
  16. ^ "Sir Frederick Ashton – Great Choreographer and founder-figure of British ballet" TheTimes 20 August 1988
  17. ^ a b c d e f g J. M. "'GISELLE' PERFORMED BY THE BALLET RUSSE: Mia Slavenska Dances Title Role at the Metropolitan," New York Times (Nov. 18, 1939).
  18. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna. "DANCE REVIEW; Rodgers As Ideal Dance Partner," New York Times (Oct. 23, 2002).
  19. ^ "Nutcracker History". Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  20. ^ "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo records, 1935–1968 (MS Thr 463) Harvard University library". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Red Poppy: The Ballet Russe Collection," Archived March 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Butler University Department of Dance. Accessed Feb. 14. 2015.
  22. ^ a b c Martin, John. "THE DANCE: BALLET RUSSE: Monte Carlo Company to Present New Works in City Center Season," New York Times (August 26, 1945).
  23. ^ Amberg, George (2007). Ballet in America – The Emergence of an American Art. Read Books. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-4067-5380-6.
  24. ^ Anderson, Jack (March 12, 1997). "Leon Danielian, 75, Ballet Star Known for His Wide Repertory". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  25. ^ The New York Times – Nicholas Magallanes Obituary on
  26. ^ KISSELGOFF, ANNA (May 15, 2013). "Robert Lindgren, 89, Ballet Dancer and College Dean, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  27. ^ Whitaker, Lauren. "ROBERT LINDGREN, FOUNDING DEAN OF UNCSA SCHOOL OF DANCE, HAS DIED Winston-Salem resident was known throughout the world of dance". UNCSA. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  28. ^ Awards to Americans in Honor of Nijinsky, New York Times, 26 November 1994, Accessed 15 November 2007
  29. ^ Sheppard, Eugenia (September 12, 1966). "Ballerina is Heroine of Medium Price Coat". The Daily Times-News, Burlington. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via
  30. ^ "December 2011/January 2012 O.Henry Magazine by O.Henry magazine - Issuu".


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]