After the horrors of the First World War, revolutions, and the Spanish Flu, Europeans were questioning the fundamentals of everything. 

This can be seen in the art of the time; many new styles defied convention, mocked the elite, and indulged in excess. 

In the first half of the 1920s, a Paris-based Swedish experimental dance ensemble synthesized these trends in their work. And that is when Ballets Suedois was born.

Ballets Suedois toured for five years with their avant-garde shows in twelve countries.


The company was directed and financed by Rolf de Maré - the son of a diplomat and sculptor. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1888 and spent his youth amongst artists.  He moved to Paris where he combined talents and combined elements from dance, poetry, film, painting, acrobatics, and more. De Maré in the role of artistic director, choreographer Jean Börlin, and aesthetic framework by Fernand Léger, formed the core of the troupe. Many of the Parisian artistic elite worked with them on sets, story, and music - such as composers Cole Porter and Erik Satie, poet Paul Claudel, and artists like Francis Picabia and de Chirico, worked during its intensive five years run. 

After the ballet closed in 1924, Rolf de Maré became one of the first to study and document dance around the world. He founded the Les Archives Internationales de la Danse in 1931 in Paris. It was the first museum and also research institute of dance.

Eventually, the institution grew too large for him to maintain and he donated its collection to the Paris Opera. The remnants of the Ballets Sedudois were not accepted and became the founding pieces of the Dance Museum in Stockholm which is marking a century since the Ballet’s Suedois’ founding with an exhibition opening in October.


To celebrate the centenary of such a unique artistic and historic movement, we invite you to visit our category dedicated to ballet, and all the famous artists that made history!