‘Blue train’, delivered in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London and supported by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery fund, was a collaborative project through which young people worked alongside a team of professional artists, performers and curators at the V&A Museum in London, to develop costumes, sets, choreography, music, film and art of their own, exhibited in galleries across London, including the V&A’s Sackler Centre.
Le Train Bleu – the ‘Blue Train’ was an overnight luxury train that travelled through France from Calais to the Mediterranean. In 1924 it inspired Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes production, famous for bold experimentations and successful collaborations with modern artists, composers and designers including Matisse, Picasso and Chanel. Blue Train was a revolutionary modern production and the company’s work was seen as a major contribution to the introduction of Modernism.
Mirroring this model, a group of young people, keen to explore different approaches to the arts heritage theme, based on their different interests such as design, fashion, media, IT and visual arts, were given a unique opportunity to get involved with a major London art and design exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes’.
The six months of training and collaboration brought together 70 young artists from different backgrounds, and culminated in a final performance of a lifetime at the V&A Museum, which attracted an audience of 200.
Project director Melba Palhazy said:
“In the 1920s Diaghilev & the Ballets Russes were seen as innovators in the arts, pushing the boundaries. The Blue Train production, due to its mould-breaking nature was perfect to inspire young people to explore their own creative interests and expand aspirations. The project enabled young people from difficult or disadvantaged backgrounds to take inspiration from global influences in art history and work alongside professional artists to develop their creative talents in an ambitious production showcasing their own creativity, for many their first, contributing towards bringing the next generation of artists, dancers, designers and film-makers together in such a creative and imaginative way.”
In one of the young participant’s own words: “This project helped, designed to blow away not only the V&A but our own perceptions of ourselves, helped to build confidence and learn design skills. One of the few times that I am doing something that I didn’t give up.” (Omar, 15)
Another participant who has joined the Blue Train Arts Steering Group, Nicole (18) said: “Joining Blue Train and the arts steering group has really inspired me and given me a brand new light to life. I have enjoyed each and every moment of taking part and met some amazingly talented people.”
Related links: www.vam.ac.uk/blog/diaghilev-and-ballets-russes/buzzing-ballets-russes