Skip to Content
Admission is always free Directions
The Gallery is closed today

Exhibition Press Release:
| Russian (PDF 254 KB)

Checklist (PDF 382 KB)



Sponsors' Statement:
(PDF 74 KB) | Russian (PDF 56 KB)

Curator Biographies:
Sarah Kennel

Jane Pritchard

Related Activities

Garden Café Ballets Russes

Chef Michel Richard

Ballets Russes Timeline (PDF 115 KB)

Online Resources

Press Contact:
Anabeth Guthrie
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

Chief Press Officer
Deborah Ziska
[email protected]
(202) 842-6353

Release Date: September 24, 2012

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes 1909 – 1929: When Art Danced with MusicArray of Public Programs Celebrates at the National Gallery of Art, Washington
May 12 – October 6, 2013—Sole US Venue

Serge Diaghilev © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Serge Diaghilev © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Washington, DC—The dynamic Ballets Russes—the most innovative dance company of the 20th century—will be celebrated by the National Gallery of Art with an array of programs including dance performances, lectures, concerts, and a symposium, as well as film screenings, gallery talks, podcasts, an audio tour, an online brochure, and a variety of offerings in the Gallery Shops. Additional details are forthcoming.

All programs are free of charge in the East Building Auditorium unless otherwise noted. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dance Performances

The Washington Ballet
June 9, 1:00 and 3:30 p.m.
East Building Mezzanine
Supported in loving memory of Shirley Casstevens
Kirov Academy of Ballet
July 13, 1:00 and 3:30 p.m.
East Building Mezzanine
Excerpts from Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun and Stravinsky’s Firebird
Supported in loving memory of Shirley Casstevens

Dancers from Russia performing excerpts from the repertoire of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes
Saturday, July 20, 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 21, 1:00 and 3:30 p.m.
East Building Mezzanine
Anna Antonicheva and Maria Allash (Prima Ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theatre),
Danila Korsuntsev and Anton Korsakov (Principal Dancers from Mariinsky Theatre)
Supported by Rosneft, with the participation of the St. Petersburg Public Foundation for the Performing Arts
Access will be restricted once the performance begins

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company
August 11, 1:00 and 3:30 p.m.
East Building Mezzanine
Dana Tai Soon Burgess will present a suite of dances inspired by the spirit of the Ballets Russes
Supported in loving memory of Shirley Casstevens


Robert Berkman, pianolist
Music from ballets performed by the Ballets Russes.
May 15, 12:10 p.m.
East Building Mezzanine

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra
Kim Allen Kluge, music director
With Bowen McCauley Dance
Music by Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky
Commemorating the Ballets Russes' premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in May 1913, and presenting Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, which was adapted by the Ballets Russes for its 1910 season.
May 19, 6:30 p.m.
East Building Atrium
Sponsored in part by the Billy Rose Foundation

Michael Arnowitt, pianist
Music by Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Satie, and other composers active in about 1913. The Ballets Russes danced to Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun in 1912 and to Satie's Parade in 1917
June 16, 6:30 p.m.
West Building, West Garden Court

Film Events

The Red Shoes
Introduction by Betty Low
Friday, May 31, 1:00 p.m.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s stunning masterpiece—an inspired attempt at fusing music, ballet, painting, and cinema into one form—tells a classic tale of a dancer who must make the anguished choice between her art and her lover. The cast is headed by Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, and Léonide Massine. Betty Low (stage name Ludmila Lvova), who danced with Massine and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, introduces the program. (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948, 35 mm, 133 minutes) Courtesy UCLA Film and Television Archive. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation

Ballets Russes
Introduction by Anna Winestein

Friday, May 31, 3:45 p.m.

From the Diaghilev-era early years in turn-of-the-century Paris, to the American tours of the 1930s and 1940s when the troupe amazed naïve audiences with sophisticated artistry, to the final downfall in the 1950s and 1960s, Ballets Russes presents rare interviews and dance footage in a compelling documentary. Discussion with Anna Winestein, executive director of the Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership, follows the screening. (Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, 2005, 35 mm, 118 minutes)

Public Symposium
Worlds of Art: Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes
Saturday, June 1, 11:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Illustrated lectures by noted scholars Alison Hilton, Wright Family Professor of Art History, Georgetown University; Simon Morrison, professor of music, Princeton University; Sjeng Scheijen, artistic director, Netherlands-Russia Year 2013; Tim Scholl, professor of Russian and comparative literature, Oberlin College; and Anna Winestein, executive director, Ballets Russes Cultural Partnership. Panel discussion follows with Juliet Bellow, assistant professor, department of art, American University; Sarah Kennel, associate curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; and Jane Pritchard, curator of dance, Victoria and Albert Museum.


When Art Danced with Music (and What it Wore)
June 2, 2:00 p.m.
Sarah Kennel, associate curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; and Jane Pritchard, curator of dance, Victoria and Albert Museum. Book signing of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music follows

Fashion and the Ballets Russes: Costumes for a Modern World
June 15, 2:15 p.m.
July 11 and August 17, 2:00 p.m.
Jon Frederick
West Building Lecture Hall

The Ballets Russes and Spain: A Source of Inspiration
July 11, 3:00 p.m.
María Alberola-Boada
West Building Lecture Hall

Summer Lecture Series

Held in conjunction with the exhibition Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced with Music, the department of adult programs offers a series of lectures illuminating the connection between art and dance. 

Bronislava Nijinska: A Choreographer's Journey
July 7, 2:00 p.m.
Lynn Garafola, professor of dance, Barnard College, Columbia University

Dancing with the Stars: Works from the Collection of the National Gallery
July 14 , 2:00 p.m.
Diane Arkin, lecturer and manager of adult program docents, National Gallery of Art 

The Rite of Spring: Race, Dance, and Modernism in 1913
July 21, 2:00 p.m.
Sarah Kennel, associate curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

Vaudeville and Popular Dance in American Art
July 28, 2:00 p.m.
Wilford W. Scott, head of adult programs, National Gallery of Art

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner: Little Dancers After Degas
August 4, 2:00 p.m.
Maryanna Ramirez, curatorial assistant, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

Ideal or Idle: Peasant Dance from Breughel to the Ballet Russes
August 11, 2:00 p.m.
Lorena Baines, lecturer, National Gallery of Art

Film Program for Children and Teens

All film programs are shown in the East Building Auditorium. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups are welcome. Food and drink are not permitted. Programs are free and subject to change without notice. For up-to-date information on the current month's films, please call (202) 789-3030. Feature films are in English unless otherwise noted.

Movin’ and Groovin’
Saturday, July 6, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 7, 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, July 10, 10:30 a.m.
Ages 5 and up
Celebrate the joy of dance with characters who twist, twirl, tiptoe, shake, stamp, and sashay their way through life. Featured is El Salón México (Paul Glickman and Tamarind King, US, 2009), an animation set to Aaron Copland’s 1936 musical composition of the same title, which follows the adventures of young Antonito as he dreams of attending his very first fiesta. Other films include Mobile (Verena Fels, Germany, 2010) about a cow whose precarious perch tests the laws of gravity; Ballet of Unhatched Chicks (Shaun Seong-Young Kim, US, 2011), an ode to self-expression; and Giraffes Can’t Dance (Weston Woods, US, 2007), the tale of Gerald the giraffe whose passion for dance overcomes the doubts of the animal kingdom. Approximately 55 minutes.

Mladinsko Theatre: Norman Allen’s Nijinsky’s Last Dance at CulturalDC
Monday, August 26 – Friday, August 30, 8:00 p.m.
Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, 916 G Street NW
CulturalDC presents Mladinsko Theatre’s production of Norman Allen’s Nijinsky’s Last Dance in celebration of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music. The play will be performed in Slovenian, with English surtitles. Running time is approximately 80 minutes.
For more information, visit:

Exhibition Film

A Gallery-produced documentary film explores Diaghilev’s Russian roots and early cultural forays, his genius for orchestrating avant-garde composers, dancers, painters, and designers, and the legacy of the Ballets Russes. New performances from productions of Afternoon of a Faun, Scheherazade, and The Prodigal Son, will be featured as well as music by Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, and Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov. The film includes archival footage spanning 1909 to 1929 and new interviews with dance historian Lynn Garafola and and conductor Leonard Slatkin.  

Café Ballets Russes at the National Gallery of Art

Award-winning Washington-based chef Michel Richard and Restaurant Associates will present Café Ballets Russes in celebration of the exhibition. Continuing the Gallery's popular themed menus inspired by exhibitions, Café Ballets Russes will open in May 2013 in the West Building Garden Café. Culinary artist Chef Richard will combine his inspiration from French and Russian bistro classics, such as blinis, beef stroganoff, caviar, and borscht, with the art, fashion, movement, and music of the Ballets Russes, to create a distinctly modern Café menu. 

Electronic Brochure

An electronic brochure will explore the history of the Ballets Russes, from its roots in Diaghilev’s cultural forays in Russia and his earliest exhibitions and concerts in Paris to the two decades of spectacular Ballets Russes productions up until Diaghilev’s death in 1929. The brochure also will reproduce documentary photographs from the company’s history and provide information about key personalities, such as Michel Fokine, Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinksy, Igor Stravinsky, and Natalia Goncharova.

Audio Tour

Narrated by director Earl A. Powell III, the exhibition audio guide ($5) will feature exhibition curator Jane Pritchard, Victoria and Albert Museum, and other noted scholars.

Gallery Talks

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music
May 29, 31; June 11, 13, 18, 20, 24, 26, 28–30; August 1, 5, 9, 13, 20, 22, 28, 30, 1:00 p.m. David Gariff
May 30; June 6, 7; July 16, 17, 18, 22 and 23, 2:00 p.m.
Diane Arkin
East Building Information Desk
15 mins.

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced with Music (in Spanish)
July 15, 22, 29 at 11:00 a.m.
María Alberola-Boada:
East Building Information Desk
15 mins.

Fashion and the Ballets Russes: Costumes for a Modern World
June 15, 2:00 p.m.
July 11, 2:00 p.m.
August 17, 2:00 p.m.
Jon Frederick
East Building Information Desk
60 mins.

Gallery Shops

A special Ballets Russes Gallery Shop will be devoted to the design themes and collaborative spirit of this famous (and sometimes notorious) ballet company. This colorful assortment of merchandise will feature scarves, jackets and other textiles, jewelry, sculpture, and giftware. Rounding out these offerings are the exhibition catalogue and poster, musical scores and CDs, performance DVDs, scholarly monographs, art books, and biographies of the Russian and Western artists, designers, and composers represented in the galleries. A carefully chosen selection of children’s books and charming tutus has also been added to inspire young readers, artists, and ballerinas, alike. 

General Information

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at, Twitter at, and Instagram at

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000B South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

The Gallery also offers a broad range of newsletters for various interests. Follow this link to view the complete list.