The Innovators: Great Gay Moments in 20th-Century Dance
BY Christopher Harrity
August 20 2011 4:00 AM ET
Sergey Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes
The legendary ballet impresario founded the Ballets Russes, a collaborative effort of the most talented artists, composers, and dancers of the early 20th century. His homosexuality was fairly well known, as was his relationship with the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky and other various lovers, including Boris Kochno, Léonide Massine, and Serge Lifar. The Ballets Russes became a locus in itself, attracting large numbers of homosexual men wherever it performed. With his intimate coterie of superbly talented gay artists, Diaghilev invented the gay mafia as they cruised together and swapped boyfriends. His concept of the male dancer as an erotic focal point helped create and commercialize the gay male gaze.