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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jacobs School of Music fall ballet honors 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes

WHAT: IU Ballet Theater 2009 fall ballet, Diaghilev Tribute
WHEN: Oct. 9-10, 8 p.m.
WHERE: IU's Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave., just north of the intersection at Third St.
TICKETS: Currently on sale through the Musical Arts Center box office and Ticketmaster, tickets are $12-20 for adults and $8-16 for full-time students of any age with valid ID. The box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Get ticket information online at, or call the box office at 812-855-7433.

Sept. 29, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Around the world, ballet companies from the Kirov to the Royal Ballet are planning performances that will honor the 100th anniversary of the first performance by Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Diaghilev Tribute

Print-Quality Photo

Joining the celebration, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's Ballet Theater will present its fall ballet program, Diaghilev Tribute, Oct. 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. at the Musical Arts Center. The evening will feature the work of two choreographers from the Diaghilev era, George Balanchine and Bronislava Nijinska, and new choreography from Michael Vernon, chair of the Jacobs School Department of Ballet, as well as major collaboration with Jacobs' choral, piano and percussion departments.

"To The Pointe," an introduction to the evening, will be given by Vernon at 7 p.m. on the Mezzanine Level of the Musical Arts Center.

Diaghilev Tribute will be presented in three sections, beginning with "Valse Fantasie" (music by Mikhail Glinka), in which Balanchine's two very different versions of the ballet will be performed back to back. The 1953 version will be staged by guest Marina Eglevsky, and the 1967 version will be staged by guest Mimi Paul, who danced in that year's production.

The second section, "Jeux" (music by Claude Debussy), which was originally choreographed by legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, features Vernon's new choreography.

"I am using the Debussy music and the basic idea of Nijinsky's ballet," said Vernon, "and I have re-choreographed it as an homage to the Diaghilev era."

The evening closes with "Les Noces" (music by Igor Stravinsky), choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska -- younger sister of Nijinsky -- and staged by guest Howard Sayette. "It is an iconic masterpiece," Vernon said.

In addition to the ballet component, this production of "Les Noces" will feature much more talent from the Jacobs School of Music, including the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, University Singers, a percussion ensemble and several pianists and vocalists, all directed by Carmen Helena Téllez, Jacobs professor of music and director of graduate choral studies.

Jacobs Professor of Piano Evelyne Brancart will supervise and perform with the pianists, and Chair of the Department of Percussion John Tafoya will supervise the percussion ensemble, led by Associate Instructor Andrew Smith. Téllez observes that this commission by Diaghilev was critical in the development of Stravinsky's mature style, just as earlier commissions launched Stravinsky's meteoric career.

"This is a tribute to Diaghilev, whose philosophy was based in collaboration," said Vernon.

Ballets Russes, or "The Russian Ballets," was a ballet company founded by Diaghilev in 1909 and ending with his death 20 years later. The company's productions were among the first to merge art, music and ballet, bringing to prominence many visual artists of the time -- including Picasso, Rouault and Matisse -- and revitalizing the art of ballet performance. Legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova and choreographer George Balanchine were part of the original company.

IU Ballet Theater is rather unique in its ability to combine live musicians and dancers for all productions, since most professional ballet companies today have to use recorded sound.

"The Diaghilev centennial is being recognized all over the world by major ballet companies," Vernon said. "We're happy to be part of that and to make our own gesture toward this important era in dance."

Diaghilev Tribute ushers in a Jacobs ballet season that includes holiday tradition The Nutcracker in early December and An American Evening in the spring, featuring choreography by Balanchine and Agnes de Mille.

For more information on the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's Opera and Ballet Theater, see For general information about the Jacobs School, see