It was in two scenes, but had no real plot, the action representing merely a series of primitive rites. With one exception there were no individual dances, but only big ensembles. Stravinsky’s music was quite unsuitable for dancing; but this troubled neither Diaghilev nor Nijinsky, whose aim was to present only a succession of rhythmically moving groups.
—S. L. Grigoriev, The Diaghilev Ballet 1909–1929

Serge Leonidovich Grigoriev was the régisseur of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and his firsthand account of Le Sacre du printemps—its creation and reception—possesses an eye-of-the-storm quiet, as if he’s still under the spell of Diaghilev’s directive on the night of the premiere: Keep calm and carry on. “Whatever happens,” Diaghilev said, “the ballet must be performed to the...


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