Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sergei Diaghilev! Day 6 of our Celebration of Russian LGBTQ Pride: An Olympic Counter-Programming Event #OlympicShame #RussianPride #CheersToSochi

 A portrait of Sergei Diaghilev by Valentin Serov, found here.

Considered the founder of modern Ballet, Sergei Diaghilev was Russian and Gay.

He was considered an impresario - someone whose main talent was to bring out the best in - and promote - other artists.

In 1890 he settled in St. Petersburg and co-founded a cultural organization and a journal, both called Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) with the idea of creating a new movement that would combine all the arts.

In 1909, he formed the Ballets Russes (Russian Ballets) and with them he toured Western Europe - revolutionizing dance staging, creating collaborative teams of artists to work on the productions, and ultimately scandalizing - and dazzling - audiences!

Sergei had a number of romances with other men, including Dmitry Filosofov, whom he was with for fifteen years. They worked together on World of Art.

About Sergei it was said:

"He never worried much about what other might think: he once made a point of walking arm-in-arm down a crowded street with the then disgraced Oscar Wilde."

Sergei later had a celebrated romance with Vaslav Nijinsky, the star male ballet dancer in his Ballets Russes.

Léon Bakst, Russian, 1866–1924, Costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun from The Afternoon of a Faun, 1912, as seen here.

Diaghilev lived with him [Nijinsky], took him everywhere, to picture galleries, museums, saw to his reading, his diet and well-being. ...Of this historic relationship it has been said, 'their union could produce no children, but it would give birth to masterpieces - and change the history of the dance, of music and of painting throughout the world.'

Vaslav was at the top of his career - he'd even started to choreograph to great acclaim and everything seemed great... until, on a trip without Sergei, Vaslav married the Hungarian countess, Romola de Pulsky in 1913.

What happened then?

Click by tomorrow, to find out.

If you can't wait, you can learn out more about Sergei Diaghilev here at The top quote above is from pg. 183 of "Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia" by Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson, and the bottom quote is from pg. 143 of "Homosexuals in History" by A.L. Rowse.


Add To The Celebration:

Who are the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer Russians you'd like to celebrate? Tell me your favorites in comments, or by twitter, and on the final day of the Olympics, I'll run a rainbow variety-pack post with everyone's suggestions!

Please Note: Given the situation in Russia, I'm thinking we should keep it to either people who are no longer living in Russia or are historical. I'd hate to create a list that then would be used against people by a repressive, anti-LGBTQ regime.

Having said that, there is a lot of Queer Russian heritage to explore and so many LGBTQ Russians we can celebrate!



Check out this just-over three minute video with highlights - and some archival footage of the Ballets Russes! - from the 2010 exhibition on Diaghilev at London's Victoria and Albert Museum:


Take Action:

Spread the word, that dance - modern dance - as it exists today, owes much to a Gay Russian man - Sergei Diaghilev.

Definitely something to celebrate!

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