The world-renowned duo Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, aka the ‘dance detectives’, are on a quest for the soul of bygone dance pieces by legendary dancers and choreographers like Vaslav Nijinski, George Balanchine and Jean Borlin. They talk to people who were there and track down survivors in order to reconstruct the ballets as faithfully as possible. On Tuesday February 20 at BOZAR, they examine the reproductions of the costumes and the decors Fernand Léger made for the ballets La création du monde (1923) and Skating-Rink (1922).
The French conductor, composer and teacher Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) wove jazz styles and Brazilian rhythms into La création du monde, in order to evoke images of a new world, far away from the destruction left behind in the wake of the First World War. Léger also aligned himself with this ‘Afro-Cubist’ fantasy and worked artistic forms into his designs, inspired by African culture.
Skating-Rink is one of the notorious ‘ballets suédois’ performed in Europe and the United States between 1920 and 1925 under the leadership of the Swedish art collector Rolf de Mare (1888-1964). As a rhapsody of dance, drama, painting, poetry, music, acrobatics, circus, film and pantomime, they quickly acquired the reputation of being the ‘synthesis of modern art’, as did Léger’s costume designs.