(Luke Jennings’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/2.)
The Ballets Russes, founded in 1910 by the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, was one of the most dazzling creative movements of the 20th century. At Diaghilev's insistence, the company was never officially filmed, and although there are many contemporary accounts of its performances – reviews, reportage, reminiscences – it's always been assumed that there was no visual record. Until last week, that is, when Jane Pritchard, curator of dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum, had her attention drawn to a 30-second scrap of newsreel film on the British Pathé website. Having examined the clip, Pritchard said: "I think we now have to say there is a tiny fragment of film of the actual Ballets Russes."