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Every so often there occurs a revolution in one or more of the arts that proves to be t only an exciting occurrence at the time but also makes a lasting contribution to the future of art in general. The Italian Renaissance and the rise of Romanticism are prime examples of this; for ballet the birth of Ballets Russes was also such a time. Never before have so many talented people seemed to get together in one place to produce such a monumental achievement in the history of ballet. This book, which chronicles the birth of Ballets Russes, abounds with the names of Nijinsky, Stravinsky, Karsavina, Bakst, Diaghilev, Pavlova, Beis, and many others immortal for their contribution to this movement. Prince Peter Lieven, who knew these people at first hand and witnessed many of the events he relates, instills in the reader the excitement and fervor that all those involved must have felt in conceiving and creating this new and dramatic school of dance. It began in 1909 when a rather humble Russian ballet company travelled to Paris under the direction of Serge Diaghileff. Their performances of Les Sylphides, Cleopatre, and Le Pavilion d'Armide marked radical departures from the old Imperial Ballet, and soon they were the rage of Paris. Each following season brought the company increased success with such performances as Stravinsky's Firebird, Petrushka, and in 1913 the revo lutionary Rite of Spring with the w famous Nijinsky, who seemed to defy the law of gravity when he leaped into the air. Prince Lieven shows how Ballets Russes rose from the Imperial Ballet and chronicles its demise after 1914. Short biographies of major personalities as well as accounts of various historic performances are included. Everyone from the ardent follower of ballet to those with only a casual interest in the art will find this book thoroughly engrossing. Prince Lieven takes the reader behind the scenes to become part of the scandals, the quarrels, the reconciliations, and the exciting successes that were part of this movement that changed the entire course of ballet history.