PRINT December 2010

Daniel Birnbaum

1 “Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929” (Victoria and Albert Museum, London; curated by Jane Pritchard and Geoffrey Marsh) They don’t make ’em like Diaghilev anymore, and they never did before him, either. About this most spectacular impresario of all time, the genius dancer Vaslav Nijinsky (whom the master, also his lover, would hit with his cane) wrote: “Diaghilev has two false front teeth. I noticed this because when he is nervous he touches them with his tongue. . . . Diaghilev reminds me of a wicked old woman when he moves his two front teeth.” Not only charming but wily and ruthlessly ambitious, Diaghilev created the most fascinating dance company of the twentieth century and a new form of Gesamtkunstwerk that involved poetry, fashion design, sculpture, painting, music, and of course choreography. He worked all over Europe with Stravinsky, Picasso, Braque,

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