Fabulous Art Deco bronze figurine of a Ballet Russes dancer in full, elaborate jewelled theatrical costume and headdress; her pleated skirt decorated in gilding and green enamel colour, the surface finished with extraordinarily fine detail; the face and hands created from hand carved ivory. A wonderful sculpture raised on a variegated onyx base and signed D Chiparus.
Made in two sizes this model of Ayouta is the smaller size and rarely available on the market.
Provenance: From a Private Collection in the Midlands, UK
Ayouta and the Ballet Russes
Paris Debut: 1909
Ayouta – In 1909, Diaghilev presented his first Paris “Saison Russe” devoted exclusively to ballet (although the company did not use the name “Ballets Russes” until the following year). Most of this original company were resident performers at the Imperial Ballet of Saint Petersburg, hired by Diaghilev to perform in Paris during the Imperial Ballet’s summer holidays. The first season’s repertory featured a variety of works chiefly choreographed by Michel Fokine, including Le Pavillon d’Armide (music by Tcherepnin), the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (music by Borodin), Les Sylphides (music by Chopin), and Cléopâtre (music by Arensky). The season also included Le Festin, a pastiche set by several choreographers (including Fokine) to music by several Russian composers.
The Ballets Russes was noted for the high standard of its dancers, and Ayouta represents one of the dancers, most of whom had been classically trained at the great Imperial schools in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Their high technical standards contributed a great deal to the company’s success in Paris, where dance technique had declined markedly since the 1830s.
Principal female dancers included: Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Olga Spessivtseva, Mathilde Kschessinska, Ida Rubinstein, Bronislava Nijinska, Lydia Lopokova, Diana Gould and Alicia Markova, among others; many earned international renown with the company.
The Ballets Russes was even more remarkable for raising the status of the male dancer, largely ignored by choreographers and ballet audiences since the early 19th century. Among the male dancers were Michel Fokine, Serge Lifar, Léonide Massine, Anton Dolin, George Balanchine, Valentin Zeglovsky, Theodore Kosloff, Adolph Bolm, and the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, considered the most popular and talented dancer in the company’s history.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, in later years, younger dancers were taken from those trained in Paris by former Imperial dancers, within the large community of Russian exiles.
The Ballet Russes was one of the major influences for Demetre Chiparus’s figurative works including Ayouta and Vested Dancer. Enjoying regular visits to the Dance Halls of Paris, Chiparus was enthused by the colourful, exotic costumes and lithe nubile bodies of the dancers and these traits are paramount in his sculptures. Chiparus also purchased all the magazines which illustrated the dancers. His wife and occasional models posed for him as he varied some of the photographed illustrations. He never wasted a good attitude, often using the same one with slight variations of arm position and costume for different figurines.
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