Ballet Russe Poster with Anna Pavlova
Diaghilev's Ballets Russes was the premier ballet company of Europe from 1909 to 1929. When most people hear the name Ballet Russe they think of one ballet company. In fact, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes fostered the creation of many other companies. Most of these companies went by the name Ballet Russe, in one form or another. The Russian Revolution caused Diaghilev to start picking up dancers where he could. Ruth Page, an American, joined the company in 1925. Many English and French dancers also were members in the final years such as : Alicia Marks (renamed Alicia Markova), Anton Dolin, Margaret Craske, Marie Rambert, Ninette de Valois and many others. Serge Lifar, a Russian, whom we associate with the Paris Opera Ballet, was one of the last male stars of the Ballets Russes de Sergei Diaghilev. Many of his dancers continued with other companies throughout the world. Many of Diaghilev's dancers left to start their own companies. Diaghilev hated competition and didn't want to divide the audience. He felt that the defectors were traitors, especially when they presented ballet from his repertoire. (At this time there were no copyright laws protecting choreography. One reason for this was the lack of an efficient, universally accepted system of dance notation). The most famous defector was Anna Pavlova who, after her performances with Diaghilev in 1909, engaged some of Ballets Russes' dancers for her own company, although she, Adolph Bolm, and Nicholas Legat had performed many times outside of Russia before dancing with Diaghilev. While still members of the Maryinsky and Bolshoi, Pavlova and Mikhail Mordkin (who many years later helped found Ballet Theatre) appeared in 1910 at New York City's Metropolitan Opera. By 1913 Pavlova had left Russia forever. She traveled the world with her company until her death in 1931.