“The Continual Triumph of Apollo: Nijinsky’s Sarabande, Ballets Russes Baroque & Diaghilev’s Love Affair with the 18th Century”

Millicent Hodson & Kenneth ArcherThe 2018 Annual Lecture was given by two experts in the reconstruction, indeed the ‘archaeology’, of early 20th century dance. Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer are an internationally known dance and design team called Ballets Old & New, who create facsimiles of lost works such as Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring & Balanchine’s Le Chant du Rossignol.  They are international prize winners and recent residential fellows at the Center for Ballet and the Arts, New York University. Their book, The Lost Rite (2014), chronicles their detective work on The Rite of Spring. Their lecture explored how Nijinsky might have used his training at the Imperial Ballet, where he was influenced by a baroque aesthetic that was also very dear to Serge Diaghilev.

Many video clips and images were shown from Fokine’s use of historical dance in transition from Petipa with Pavilion d’Armide (1909);

Picasso's costume for Pulchinella 1920

Picasso’s costume for Pulchinella 1920

Massine’s Feuillet-inspired comedy of courtly manners in The Good Humoured Ladies (1917) and “street Baroque” of his commedia dell’arte Pulchinella (1920); Nijinsky’s updated 18th century ballets (1924); Massine’s celebration of Empress Elizabeth with modern stage machinery and cinematic decor in Ode (1928) and finally Balanchine’s surrealist baroque in Le Bal (1929). Nijinsky’s Abandoned Sarabande was also be discussed in view of the related workshop on Saturday.

The lecture was part talk, part video screening and part performance. So a text would not reproduce it as much as the follow on the resources provided below on this page. The talk represented notes towards a book with Catherine Turocy, Claudia Jeschke and Doug Fullington, planned title, “Ballets Russes Baroque”, so it is premature to publish a full text at this point.

NOTE Hodson and Archer’s book, “The Lost Rite”, is available on Amazon at quite a price.  However, one can read excerpts prior to purchase and see a lot of the book without having to pay for it.


On Sat. 24 Feb. 10:30 – 12:30: Video Screenings with voice over and discussion, showing Hodson & Archer’s reconstructions — Jeux after Nijinsky (1913) and Le Chant du Rossignol (1925) & Le Bal (1929) after Balanchine.

Sat. 24 Feb. 2:00 – 4:00: Nijinsky’s Abandoned Sarabande and its Origins in Jeux: A Dance Workshop exlored Nijinsky’s Jeux as a neo-classical work that led him towards the Bach ballet. Jeux is (in its own pre-WWI period way) a ballet of manners, not courtly but still codified in the Bloomsbury mores Nijinsky had acutely observed. Participants will learn excerpts from the steps and partnering of Jeux and view the initial Sarabande material as re-imagined from knowledge of Jeux and Nijinsky’s evolving choreographic practice.


“The Three Graces and Disgraces of Jeux”

This is the introduction to Millicent Hodson’s book on the re-constucted choreography of this ballet, might be the most useful as a follow up to the EDC people who interested interest in some follow up. Text from Millicent Hodson, Nijinsky’s Bloomsbury Ballet: Reconstruction of the Dance and Design for Jeux Pendragon Press, 2008.

Several people spoke during the film screenings about the dangers of docudrama. it might be useful for people to read about the making of “Riot at the Rite” and the issues we faced.

JEUX: KA and MH, “Games People Play”, Dance Tabs, London

http://dancetabs.com/2013/07/games-people-play-jeux-young-at-100/ 0/

KA and MH, “Sagrasamba: The Rite in Rio”, Dance Tabs (online magazine) London, 12 July 2015.


KA and MH, “Sacre 1913: Shamanic Sources & Ultramodern Forms,” Experimen/эксперимент Volume 20 (2014) 31-47.


Shamanic designs used by painter and archaeologist Nicholas Roerich on the costumes
for the original Rite of Spring (1913) apparently shaped the ground patterns of the choreography
by Vaslav Nijinsky. Dance detectives Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson
demonstrate how they discovered these dance and design correspondences in the
course of reconstructing the lost Rite for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987 and for other companies
worldwide since that time.

MH and KA, “The Lost Rite,” with photographs by Shira Klasmer (KMS Press, London, 2014).