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Serge Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes: Topics in Chronicling America

Diaghilev's Ballet Russes became a groundbreaking ballet company in the early 20th century. This guide provides access to materials related to "Serge Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"The magnificent Ballet Russe, Its splendors and surprises, the creator and the interpreters of a new art." March 25, 1916. "Evening Public Ledger" (Philadelphia, PA), Image 9. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

"Police May Curb Russian Ballet!" reports the New-York Tribune on January 25, 1916, the audience aghast as beautiful barely-clad female dancers appear on stage during opening night of the troupe’s U.S. tour. Referring to the police clamp-down, director Serge Diaghilev (1892-1929) called it "a most idiotic affair." Diaghilev, also known in Russia as Sergei Diaghilev, and his ballet russes had only just begun. A tamer second-night version of “the dance that made even Paris blush” nevertheless play to a packed house. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


December 1910The Imperial Russian Ballet (Ballet Russe) tours the U.S. Principal dancers are Anna Pavlowa and Mikail Mordkin.
January 1916The Imperial Ballet Russ Company, led by Serge Diaghilev, embarks on a tour of seventeen U.S. cities.
October 1916 - February 1917Another U.S. tour led by Vaslav Nijinsky, comprises performances in over fifty cities.