1872-03-19

SERGEI DIAGHILEV, Russian choreographer, born (d: 1929); a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballet Russes from which many famous dancers and choreographers would later arise. One cannot underestimate the influence of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes on the development of 20th century art. But the importance of his sexuality to Diaghelev’s creative art is sometimes overlooked. Had he not been a Gay man, had he not attracted to his cause the great Gay writers of the day, the stream of 20th century art may have flowed in an entirely different direction (some might say towards “Let’s Make a Deal”). As Martin Green wrote in Children of the Sun, “He made the dancer Nijinsky first his lover and then his choreographer, slyly displacing Michel Fokine and inspiring Nijinsky to become the company’s chief ballet-creator. Diaghilev’s superb taste…was made manifest in this new Nijinksy, the choreographer, and in the ballets he created. These works of art were the children of Diaghilev’s sexual passion. The same thing happened later with Leonide Massine and Serge Lifar…These men created ballets under the spell of Diaghilev’s passion and he created through them.”