Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Serge Lifar was born on April 2, 1903 in Kiev, Ukraine and trained there by Bronislava Nijinska. Lifar was dynamic and controversial in his personal life. He was accepted into the Ballets Russes in 1923. Serge Lifar's career was delayed a year because he did not accept Serge Diaghilev's invitation to breakfast. Diaghilev insisted that Lifar's training continue with Enrico Cecchetti, Nicolai Legat and Pierre Vladimirov. Lifar was known for his notorious and unscrupulous displays of ego. While partnering Alicia Markova at London's Drury Lane Theatre, his extremely unprofessional jealousy of her triumph caused a scandal. In 1938, they danced again when Markova was making her debut in America. The ballet was almost ruined by Lifar's attempts to steal scenes, causing a critic to write that his performance in Giselle would justify changing the name of the ballet to Albrecht.
Lifar eventually replaced Anton Dolin as Diaghilev's favorite, when Dolin left to dance in Cochran's Revues with Vera Nemtchinova. Diaghilev made sure Lifar continued his daily classes with Enrico Cecchetti. Wherever Lifar went, Cecchetti was there to give him lessons. Lifar was the last of the Ballets Russes' Premier Danseurs, although Dolin did return to the company as one of the stars. Two of Lifar's greatest achievements as a dancer in the Ballets Russes were in Balanchine's Apollo and The Prodigal Son.
After Serge Diaghilev's death in 1929, Lifar became Premier Danseur of the Paris Opera Ballet, whose reputation had declined since the Victorian era. By 1933, he had become its Director and Professor of Dance. In 1939, Lifar joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where he again danced with Alicia Markova, this time at London's Covent Garden.
Lifar held the position of Director at the Paris Opera Ballet for 20 years, creating 90 percent of the choreography and dancing many leading roles. Although he himself was trained by Cecchetti, he replaced the Italian technique at the Paris Opera with the modern Russian Vaganova School, named for the great Kirov teacher Aggripina Vaganova. He remained as director of the Paris Opera Ballet until 1945, when charges of collaboration with the Germans caused him to leave and become director of the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo. Lifar, cleared of the charges and given a year's suspension, returned as director of the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947. In 1949, he danced again, and his last performance at the Opera was as Albrecht in ''Giselle'' in 1956. He resigned as director in 1958, although he was briefly re-engaged as choreographer in 1968.
In the summer of 1994 on the stage of the National Ukraine Opera the First International Ballet Contest was held named after Serge Lifar. The new contest happened to be unique. For the first time in Europe young ballet artists and balletmasters contended simultaneously. The Sixth Lifar International Ballet Competition was held in April, 2006.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Diaghilev never went to sleep without thinking of some way to get enough money to spawn a new ballet. After his death in 1929 the company that he had worked so hard to create disbanded. It took until 1933 before another company could get the funding and leadership to start a new season, using many of the dancers that had been with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Massine continued to choreograph for every major company including three years as lead dancer and choreographer for the Roxy Theatre in New York City. In 1945 and 1946 he formed his own company called Ballet Russe Highlights.Massine created over 50 ballets, he was a prolific choreographer. A few of his ballets are: The Good-Humored Ladies, La Boutique Fantastique, The Three Cornered Hat, Les Presages, Jeux d'enfants, and Gaîte Parisienne.
She created roles in Leonide Massine's Les Présages, Jeux d'enfants, Beau Danube, and Bronislava Nijinska's Les cent baisers. In 1940 she joined Ballet Theatre and she married Gerry Sevastianov, one of the directors. In 1946, Baronova married Cecil Tennant with whom she had three children, Victoria, Irina and Robert.
Baronova also appeared in films and musicals, was a guest artist with the Original Ballet Russe and was an active member of the Royal Academy of Dancing. She wrote an article called "Dancing for de Basil" for About the House (a magazine about the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden) in 1964. In 1974, she returned to ballet as a teacher and consultant. In 2005, she wrote her autobiography, Irina: Ballet, Life and Love. She passed away at her home in Australia on June 28, 2008 at the age of 89.
Igor he made his ballet debut in Paris in 1932. He remained in Paris and continued his studies with Olga Preobrajenska for the next two years. In 1934 Youskevitch joined Bronislava Nijinska's Les Ballets de Paris, and in 1935 he became a member of Leon Woicikowski's ballet. Colonel de Basil sponsored Woicikowski's tour of Australia starring Igor Youskevitch and André Eglevsky in 1937. While with the Woicikowski's Ballet ,Youskevitch met Anna Scarpova, a dancer with the company, and they were married in 1938. That same year, Youskevitch and Scarpova became members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. He remained there until he volunteered to served in the U.S. Navy in 1944.
In 1946, he joined Leonide Massine's Ballet Russe Highlights, and that fall he became a premier danseur of Ballet Theatre, now American Ballet Theatre. While with ABT he and Alicia Alonso (created roles in George Balanchine's Theme and Variations in 1947. As a team they became world renowned, and in 1948 he was guest artist with Alonso's Cuban Ballet. Youskevitch created a role in Antony Tudor's Shadow of the Wind in 1948 and he danced in Gene Kelly's movie Invitation to the Dance in 1952.
After leaving ABT in 1955, Igor returned with Alonso to star for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Igor Youskevitch won the Dance Magazine Award in 1958, In 1960 he rejoined Ballet Theatre as a Guest Artist on their first visit to the Soviet Union.
He retired from the stage in 1962, but not from dance. Youskevitch was on the faculty of the University of Texas in Austin from 1971 to 1982. He co-founded the New York International Ballet Competition in 1985, and he remained its Artistic Director until his death. He was awarded the Capezio Dance Award in 1991 and passed away in 1994.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
He continued to dance with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes after 1909, even though Anna Pavlova left because Diaghilev favored his male dancers. Although Vaslav danced with many great ballerinas, he was most associated with Tamara Karsavina, with whom he danced in 1911 in one of the most famous ballets of the time, Le Spectre de la Rose.
Nijinsky’s choreography broke away from his classical training. His ballets were controversial, his Jeux made headlines in the morning press, and Le Sacre du Printemps had the audiences shouting obscenities in the theater and on the streets of Paris.
In 1913, the Ballets Russes toured South America, and because of his fear of ocean voyages Diaghilev did not accompany them. Without his mentor's supervision Nijinsky fell in love with Romola de Pulszky, a Hungarian dancer. They were married in Buenos Aires: when the company returned to Europe, Diaghilev, in a jealous rage, fired them both.
During World War I Nijinsky, a Russian citizen, was interned in Hungary. Diaghilev succeeded in getting him out for a North American tour in 1916, during which he choreographed and danced the leading role in Till Eulenspiegel. Signs of his dementia praecox were becoming apparent to members of the company. He became afraid of other dancers and that a trap door would be left open.
Monday, March 8, 2010
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.
In 1917, while on their Latin American tour, the set for Cleopatra was destroyed in a fire; in July 1918 Diaghilev ordered a new set to be designed by Robert Delauney. He ordered sketches of the costumes for Lubov Tchernicheva and Leonide Massine, from Delauney's wife Sonia.
After attending the opening night of Cleopatra's debut in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II, urged members of his Society of Egyptology to study Bakst's mise-en-scene.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Tamara was a guest artist with the American Ballet Theatre 1944-45, the Paris Opéra Ballet 1947 and 1950, De Cuevas Company 1949, La Scala 1951 and 1952, London Festival Ballet 1952 and 1954. She passed away in Santa Monica, California, on May 29, 1996.
She created roles in Leonide Massine's Les Présages, Jeux d'enfants, Beau Danube, and Bronislava Nijinska's Les Cent Baisers. In 1940, she joined Ballet Theatre, now ABT, as prima ballerina. Irina also appeared in films and musicals, was a guest artist with the Original Ballet Russe and was an active member of the Royal Academy of Dancing.
Lydia Sokolova was born March 4, 1886 as Hilda Munnings. She was Diaghilev's first English ballerina. Lydia received much of her training from London's Stedman Ballet Academy, Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Mordkin, and Enrico Cecchetti. She joined Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company in 1913 and remained until Diaghilev died in 1929. Lydia danced every sort of role from classical to comedy. Her most famous role was that of the Chosen Maiden in Leonide Massine's revival of Le Sacre du Printemps in 1920. She also danced the lead in Massine's Le Tricorne.
When Diaghilev died many dancers had to find other employment. Lydia choreographed some London musicals and in 1935 she danced in Leon Woizikovsky's Company. She also danced in the Royal Ballet production of Massine's The Good-Humoured Ladies in 1962.
Suggested reading, book by Lydia Sokolova. Dancing for Diaghilev.