The Ballets Russes (The Russian Ballets) was an itinerant ballet company from Russia which performed between 1909 and 1929 in many countries. Directed by Sergei Diaghilev, it is regarded as the greatest ballet company of the 20th century. Many of its dancers originated from the Imperial Ballet of Saint Petersburg. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, younger dancers came from those trained in Paris, within the community of exiles. The company featured and premiered now-famous (and sometimes notorious) works by the great choreographers Marius Petipa and Michel Fokine, as well as new works by Bronislava Nijinska, Léonide Massine, Vaslav Nijinsky, and the young George Balanchine at the start of his career.
After Diaghilev's early death in 1929, the dancers scattered, and the company's property was claimed by creditors. In 1932 Colonel Wassily de Basil and his associate René Blum revived the company under the name Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Balanchine and Massine worked with them as choreographers, and Tamara Toumanova was a principal dancer. De Basil and Blum argued constantly; in 1938 the founders split and De Basil founded another company, which he called the Original Ballet Russe, while Blum renamed his group Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The three companies were the subject of the 2005 documentary film Ballets Russes.
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