Léonide Massine


Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) and Erik Satie (1866-1925). Autograph letter to Serge Diaghilev, dated January 12, 1917. Uncatalogued letters. Purchased with the Howard D. Rothschild Fund, 2005.


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Parade, Costume design for the Chinese Conjuror, 1917. Pencil. Howard D. Rothschild Collection. pf MS Thr 414.4 (113). Bequest, 1989.


This letter from Cocteau (with a postscript by the composer Erik Satie) to “Monsieur de Diaghilev” constitutes an agreement to create and compose the ballet Parade. The revolutionary 15-minute-long modernist score includes the first instance of “musique concrète” in ballet, and the ballet’s dadaist staging by Cocteau, together with designs by Picasso, were also unprecedented. With a scenario that involved circus performers, the characters included theatrical managers made to look like skyscrapers and horses, whose conversations were repre­sented by foot-stamping and other comic miming. Although it was un­popu­lar with the dancers, the ballet was actually well received as an innovation by the Paris audiences.