#tbt: That One Time Jean Cocteau Made a Ballet About Unicorns

December 6, 2017

Sometimes we find gems in the DM Archives that are simply too wonderful not to share—for instance, these images from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production of La Dame à la Licorne, conceived and designed by French artist Jean Cocteau and choreographed by Heinz Rosen.

Photo courtesy DM Archives

This description of the 1953 ballet appeared in the April 1957 issue of Dance Magazine ahead of the work’s New York premiere: “Coctaeu…has created an enigmatic libretto in which a noble maiden has a lovely white unicorn which eats only from her hand. But after the Knight comes, and an amorous pas de deux ensues between the two aristocrats, the Unicorn will no longer eat and dies. The Knight, who has left, now returns, but the Lady is no longer interested in him. As the curtain falls, she is on stage alone, with neither Knight nor Unicorn, pointing to a banner on which is inscribed ‘Mon seul désir’ (My only desire).”

Heinz Rosen rehearses members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo for the U.S. premiere of La Dame à la Licorne. Photo courtesy DM Archives.