Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume


We are pleased to announce that the landmark exhibition Ballets Russes: the Art of Costume, which was held in Australia in 2010, will be shown at the National Art Center, Tokyo from 18 June to 1 September, 2014. The exhibition celebrates Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (Russian Ballet), the dance company that revolutionized ballet with its sensational fusion of art, movement and music.
Featuring 144 costumes and accessories from 33 Ballets Russes productions, as well as costume and set design drawings, photography and original programs, this exhibition brings to life the Ballets Russes’ avant-garde performances that electrified audiences in Europe, the Americas and Australia from 1909 to 1940.
Russian-born Sergei Diaghilev was instrumental in bringing together the finest artists of the early 20th century including visual artists, composers and choreographers to create a new modern art form. The Paris-based company originated in Russia under Diaghilev’s charismatic leadership – but they never performed there. They toured throughout Europe, Britain and the United States of America and brought together the talents of composers such as Igor Stravinsky (who launched his career with the Ballets Russes and was Diaghilev’s closest musical collaborator), and Claude Debussy; choreographers, Michel Fokine, Leonide Massine and George Balanchine and dancers such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova and Thamar Karsavina.
After Diaghilev’s untimely death in 1929, several new companies were formed to continue and develop his legacy, the most important being Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, formed in Monaco in 1932 by the Russian entrepreneur Colonel Wassily de Basil. This company toured internationally, including tours in Australia three times during the 1930s, enthralling audiences with its productions, sparking an appreciation of modern European art and setting the foundations for modern dance companies in Australia.
In this exhibition are costumes that were designed to be worn and breathed in on the stage, but which are also works of art by some of the greatest modern artists and theatre designers of the early 20th century, including Léon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, Nicholas Roerich, Aleksandr Golovin, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Natalia Goncharova, André Derain, Giorgio de Chirico and Pavel Tchelitchew.
This collection of Ballets Russes costumes, one of the largest and finest in the world, is significant for the National Gallery of Australia, which aims to celebrate modernism and to show how arts across all media contribute to an understanding of its influence.
The National Gallery of Australia’s collection of Ballets Russes costumes began with the purchase of nearly 400 significant pieces at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1973, with another considerable purchase made in 1976. The Gallery has added to the collection in the decades following and this exhibition includes new acquisitions made in the last few years.

Dates June 18(Wed.)- September 1(Mon.), 2014
Closed on Tuesdays (except August 12)
Opening hours 10:00-18:00 *10:00-20:00 on Fridays, 16, 23 and 30 August (Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo (Kokuritsu-Shin-Bijutsukan), Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
7-22-2 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Yomiuri Shimbun
With the support of Australian Embassy Tokyo, Public Juridical Foundation Japan Ballet Association
With the sponsorship of Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Chacott Co., Ltd.
Funded by Australia-Japan Foundation
With the cooperation of: K-BALLET, JAPAN AIRLINES, Yamato Logistics Co., Ltd.
Admission(tax included)
General 1,500 yen(Adults), 1,200 yen(College students), 600 yen(High school students)
Advance/Group 1,300 yen(Adults), 1,000 yen(College students), 400 yen(High school students)
  • Visitors who are under junior high school students and disabled people with ID booklets (along with the one attendant) will be admitted for free.
  • Free admission on July 25, 26 and 27 for high school students upon presenting students ID.
  • Advance tickets can be purchased through the above services and at the National Art Center, Tokyo from February 26(Wed.) to June 17(Tue.), 2014 (only until June 16(Mon.), 2014 at the National Art Center, Tokyo)
  • Tickets both Advance and General are available through Ticket Pia (P-code: 766-033), Lawson Ticket (L-code: 31307) and eplus. Service charges may apply.
  • Group tickets will only be available at the venue and discounts only applicable to groups of 20 people or more.
  • Reduction (100 yen off) applies for visitors who present the ticket stub of a concurrent exhibition at The National Art Ceter, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art or Mori Art Museum (Art Triangle Roppongi).
  • For Students, faculty and staff, of “Campus Members”, group discounts are applies for purchasing tickets.
  • Credit card (UC, Master Card, VISA, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club, DISCOVER) and e-cash (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, etc.) and iD and J-Debit and UnionPay are available for purchasing tickets.
Inquiries Tel: +81 (0)3-5405-8686 (Hello Dial)

Related Events (in English)


“Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume” by Dr Robert Bell (Curator of the exhibition, Senior Curator Decorative Arts and Design)
Dates June 18(Wed.), 14:00-15:30
Venue 3F Auditorium, the National Art Center, Tokyo (limited to 250 people:First-come, first-served) Admission free with exhibition ticket
(Lecture will be held in English with Japanese consecutive translation)


“Ballets Russes” (Directors: Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine, DVD, 2005, G, 118mins)
Dates 10:30, 13:00, 15:30 on June 21(Sat.) and August 16(Sat.)
Venue 3F Auditorium, the National Art Center, Tokyo (limited to 250 people:First-come, first-served) Admission free with exhibition ticket

*All events are subject to changes in time and content. For details and the latest information,
see the exhibition website: and the Center’s website:

For inquiries or more information, please contact:

Public Relations Division
The National Art Center, Tokyo
Tel: +81-(0)3-6812-9925 Fax: +81-(0)3-3405-2531