THE BALL
LE BAL

PREMIERE
MONTE CARLO, 7 MAY 1929

SCENERY & COSTUMES

GIORGIO DE CHIRICO

MUSIC
VITTORIO RIETI

CHOREOGRAPHY
GEORGE BALANCHINE

The Ball was one of Serge Diaghilev's last productions. He died within a month of the close of the 1929 season.

Like many of the ballets of the 1920s The Ball was urbane and light-hearted. It was well received, with most of the credit going to the designer Giorgio de Chirico, whose highly original, eerily desolate paintings of arcades and Surrealist urban views were quite famous by this time. The success of The Ball launched his career in theatre design. Between 1924 and 1970 de Chirico was involved in designing the decors of 23 theatrical productions.

The scenario of this ballet is a version of the familiar masked ball story, in which old wrinkled masks are removed to reveal stunning beauty. The whole idea of ambiguity of identity underpins de Chirico's designs. Transformed by their costumes, the guests resembled moving fragments of architecture; the men wore top hats fluted with painted pilasters, the women wore stockings decorated with patterns of brickwork. The backdrops were similar to de Chirico's paintings, impassive and ominous. He cleverly undermined the audience's notions of reality by creating a world in which the dancers, as moving monuments, interacted against and became part of a backdrop of larger-than-life mannequins.

George Balanchine's choreography, in keeping with the light-hearted tone of Vittorio Rieti's music and de Chirico's design, was lively, acrobatic and varied.