Holiday 24

The body is a sacred garment.

— Martha Graham


Igor Stravinsky’s ballet and orchestral work Firebird, an exquisite piece often credited with cementing his star status, was first written for the 1910 Paris season of the Ballets Russes. The itinerant ballet company led by Sergei Diaghilev had landed in Paris the year before, becoming an immediate sensation. Though the Ballets Russes was called a ballet company, little they conjured on stage resembled any ballet the audience had previously seen—the movement (spearheaded by the powerfully charismatic Vaslav Nijinsky whose towering leaps are the stuff of legend), the choreography, the music, the sets (designed by legends like Picasso, Cocteau and Matisse), it would all set the art form on a radically different course.