Event—Adult Education

The Artists of the Ballets Russes


Explore the work that great visual artists and set designers did to elevate Diaghilev’s legendary Balles Russes performances.

Costumes du ballet Parade Les Ballets russes Opéra. Source: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

The seasons of ballet presented in the West by Serge Diaghilev from 1909 to 1929 thrilled audiences and blazed new directions in choreography, music, and the visual arts, creating masterpieces including Schéhérazade, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, and many others.

We will explore the work that great visual artists created specifically for the Ballets Russes, from the brilliant and innovative set designers Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst to such towering figures of Modernism as Goncharova, Picasso, Braque, Laurencin, de Chirico, and Rouault.

Jeffrey Nigro is a Research Associate and Adjunct Lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Materials List


  • Digital Course Packet

First Reading:

  • John Drummond, Speaking of Diaghilev. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1997: “Tamara Karsavina”, pp. 81-97; “Anne Benois-Tcherkessova”, pp. 101-105; “Henri Sauguet”, pp. 231-235; “Cecil Beaton”, pp. 263-267.

Cost and Registration

Six sessions, $255 ($230 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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