Russian Dance: Selections from the Donation of Herbert and Ruth Schimmel

Nijinsky as The Faun in Comoedia Illustré by Leon Bakst
Feb 02, 2008 - Sep 12, 2008
Russian Art Gallery


The Silver Age of Russian culture, which spans the 1890s to the 1920s, saw extraordinary developments in Russian literary, musical, and visual arts. This flowering of creativity also included the art of dance, which achieved unparalleled mastery in twentieth century Russia. The period included legendary dancers such as Nijinksy, Karsavina, Pavlova, and Spessiva, as well as the innovative choreographers Fokine, Massine, Balanchine, and Nijinska. But Russian dance of the modernist period also attracted the era’s most gifted musicians and visual artists, including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Leon Bakst, and Alexandre Benois. It was the impresario Serge Diaghilev who brought together the multiple talents of the era to create the Ballets Russes, which shocked and delighted audiences in Western Europe and the Americas.

The Herbert and Ruth Schimmel Collection at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum is a precious resource for the study of early twentieth century Russian dance. Through the collection’s rare books, programs, journals, photography and artwork, scholars and the general public may reconstruct the exciting world of modernist Russian dance. This exhibition offers a tantalizing selection of the collection’s extraordinary holdings, including original programs from the Ballets Russes and its successor, The Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Other gems include rare and lavishly illustrated albums commemorating outstanding Russian ballerinas, sensual stage and costume designs, portfolios of drawings devoted to Nijinsky, posters, and even videos of contemporary recreations of daring Diaghilev-era ballets, including the erotic Afternoon of a Faun.

Leon Bakst
Nijinsky as The Faun in Comoedia Illustré, May 15, 1912
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers 
Gift of Herbert D. and Ruth Schimmel