Yesterday marked the 145th birthday of Ballets Russes impresario Serge Diaghilev – to celebrate this Google created a doodle in his honour.

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Without Diaghilev the arts and in particular ballet would be very different. The Ballets Russes was the most significant artistic enterprise of the C20th and it was led by the indomitable figure of Diaghilev.

Diaghilev fostered and promoted the careers of dancers such as Pavlova, Nijinsky and Karsavina – choreographers; Fokine, Massine and Balanchine – composers; Stravinsky, Ravel and Satie and artists including Bakst, Goncharova, Matisse, Picasso and de Chirico.

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Although such a significant figure he has been largely forgotten in the main stream which is why this doodle is so fantastic. I hope it prompted even just a few people to learn more about this great man.

In January this year I visited Venice and went to San Michele where Diaghilev is buried. He died on the 19th of August 1929 and was buried in the Russian Orthodox section of the island cemetery.

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The monument was covered with ballet shoes left by visitors. Nearby are the graves of Stravinsky and his wife Vera. The morning I visited I was the only person in this quite section of the cemetery.

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