6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Ballet Empire: Silver Age St. Petersburg and the Legacy of the Ballets Russes

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

James H. Billington Seminar on Russian History and Culture

In the twilight of the Russian empire, the capital city of St. Petersburg witnessed an unprecedented period of artistic experimentation and collaboration. Writers, artists, musicians, and dancers participated in the cross-genre cultural crucible that produced the Ballets Russes. In their seasons in Paris, the members of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes transformed the artistic tradition and institutional structure of ballet. This exchange marked Russian ballet’s emergence as a true ballet empire, transforming the art form globally to the extent that today Russia’s continuing influence on the development of ballet is still recognized as one of its greatest cultural contributions to the world.

The Kennan Institute’s Billington Fellow Natalie Rouland will position the work of pioneering impresario and Ballets Russes dancer Ida Rubinstein in the context of Silver Age St. Petersburg. Professor Emerita of Barnard College Lynn Garafola will discuss the work of choreographer and dancer Bronislava Nijinska in Kyiv, and Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet Julie Kent will address the contemporary productions of George Balanchine in New York and Washington. Distinguished Fellow of the Wilson Center Blair Ruble will moderate the discussion.    

The seminar will be followed by a light reception.

The James H. Billington Seminar on Russian History and Culture is made possible through generous support for the Billington Initiative at the Kennan Institute.