December 17, 2009 marked the birthday of someone truly special, Sonia Wojcikowska. Who is Sonia, you ask? Sonia is the daughter of two of Diaghilev's original Ballets Russes dancers, Helena Antonova (photo with shawl) and Leon Wojcikowski (portrait below), and she was the God-daughter of Picasso. Sonia was an accomplished ballerina, who was a member of the Ballets Russes.
I myself only met Sonia once, and she left quite an impression. I am told that these days, she prefers to watch the New York Yankees, a big fan I understand - good taste. Apparently, due to some difficult times, Sonia chooses not to share her memories of her Ballets Russes years. While I respect that, as they are her stories to tell or not tell, it is a shame for us, as hers are stories that will now never be told, a book we'd like to read, but one she doesn't want to write.
Sonia was born December 17, 1919. Sonia was educated at the Lycee Jules Ferrier school in Paris under Lubov Egorova. Sonia started her career as a little girl in a walk-on part in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes production of Petrouchka holding the hand of Enrico Cecchetti. Sonia’s parents, Helena Antonova and Leon Wojcikowski, were both stars of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company. Sonia’s godfather was Pablo Picasso.
At 9, Sonia sang the part of Chaliapin’s grand-daughter in Opera La Sirene, (The Mermaid) at Paris Opera. Later she sang two Spanish songs off-stage for Leonide Massine’s Three Cornered Hat. When Sonia was thirteen she danced with her mother at the Paris Opera with Les Ballets Ida Rubinstein. Sonia danced many of her mother's roles. (Her father told her once that he could not tell them apart.) By replacing Nathalie Krassovska in Rubinstein's company Sonia danced her first solo in Mikhail Fokine's Diane de Poitiers.
If you scroll down on my Russian Ballet History website Blog page, there is a copy of a Dance Magazine article on Sonia from June, 1963. Click here to read it!
Sonia joined Mme. Egorova’s Ballet de la Jeunesse at 14 years of age. She later became a soloist with the Original Ballet Russse in 1938. Sonia first came to the United States on the Normandie to dance in the World’s Fair in 1939. In 1940 she became a soloist with Ballet Theatre, now American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Sonia also had a part in the original “Oklahoma” and was the “Foxhole Ballerina” for the troops in WWII. Sonia became a US citizen in 1949. She married violinist Joska de Barbary and still resides in New York City. She is 90 years old this year, or more appropriately 90 years young!
Curtsy, Bow, Acknowledge the Orchestra,