a watercolor painting of a costume that comes from the ballet "Cleopatra", which "was first performed at a benefit in St. Petersburg at the Maryinsky Theatre on March 8, 1908. It was called Nuit d"Egypte at that time. It was originally staged and choreographed by Fokine, solely to Arensky's score. Most of the costumes that were used were borrowed from La Fille du Pharaon and Aida, only soloist costumes were sketched by Leon Bakst. The set came from one of the operas in the Maryinsky's repertoire, but was touched up by Maryinsky stage designer, Oreste Allegri.
On June 2,1909, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes performed it as Cleopatra at the Theatre du Chatelet as part of their first season in Paris. Fokine talked Diaghilev into using a student of his, a non-professional dancer, for the part of Cleopatra, Ida Rubinstein. The sets and costumes were designed by Leon Bakst a the suggestion of Alexandre Benois."
"Bakst came into the theatre on the wave of choreographer Michel Fokine’s revolution in Russian ballet. Fokine rejected full evening story ballets, like 'Swan Lake', where the story was told in formal mime interspersed with virtuoso dances and the ballerinas wore pink satin pointe shoes and tutus decorated with appropriate symbols (e.g. lotus for Egypt, key pattern for Greece, vines and leopard skin for bacchantes) whatever the subject or setting.
In Fokine’s ballets, the theme dictated the style of the choreography, music and design; the steps were imbued with meaning and emotion. As part of the creative team, Bakst produced designs suited to each particular ballet - Orientalism in ‘Scheherazade’ and ‘Cleopatra’, Ancient Greece in ‘Daphnis and Chloë’ and ‘Narcisse’, Biedermeier in ‘Carnaval’ and ‘Spectre de la Rose’, and 18th century style in ‘The Good-Humoured Ladies’ and ‘The Sleeping Princess’.
This ‘new ballet’ became the rage of Paris in 1909, when audiences went wild for the colour, exoticism and barbarism, especially in the ballets designed by Bakst."
"Bakst achieved international fame with his sets and costumes, in which he combined bold designs and sumptuous colours with minutelyrefined details to convey an atmosphere of picturesque, exotic Orientalism. In 1919 Bakst settled permanently in Paris. His designs for a London production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty in 1921 are regarded as his greatest work."