Rarely seen items from the National Library of Australia’s Ballets Russes collection, the largest of its kind in Australia, will go on show at the National Library in Canberra from Thursday 9 April.

This special collection-in-focus features more than 100 items and concentrates on three themes: the artists who created the Ballets Russes and its experimental productions; the dancers who captivated Australian audiences; and the Australian artists whom they inspired.

“This is the first major Ballets Russes event for the National Library,” Curator of Dance Lee Christofis said. “The exhibition includes images from a rare collection of live action shots taken from the dress circle of about 30 ballets in His Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. We also have fine examples of Max Dupain’s portraits of the dancers, theatre designs as well as paintings and drawings by the dancers themselves”.

The exhibition celebrates the centenary of the debut of the Ballets Russes and features a tribute to Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev whose inaugural Ballets Russes (1909–1929) revolutionised ballet for the rest of the twentieth century. From photographs, paintings and drawings of dancers on stage and in rehearsal, to more personal mementos of life outside the spotlight, the display looks at the Ballets Russes companies, which dazzled Australia from the mid-1930s, bringing an exotic show of dance never before seen on these shores.

Exhibition Details
The Ballets Russes in Australia 1936-1940, from 9 April 2009
National Library of Australia, Visitor Centre, Ground Floor
Fourth Floor & Lower Ground 1
Open during library hours, free

High-resolution images are available for download at http://www.nla.gov.au/media/

Media Contacts:
Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, National Library of Australia
02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697 or shopman@nla.gov.au

Judith Dahl Taylor, Communications and Marketing Manager, National Library of Australia; 02 6262 1160 or jdahltaylor@nla.gov.au