Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ballets Russes' March Birthday Girls

Tamara Toumanova was born March 2, 1919 to Georgian parents, on a train while her mother was trying to flee during the Russian Revolution. The family eventually settled in Paris. She studied ballet with Olga Preobrajenska. Tamara made her debut at the Paris Opera at the age of nine in L'Eventail de Jeanne. Tamara was one of the three “Baby Ballerinas”. George Balanchine saw her in ballet class and signed her to the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo at the age of 13. Balanchine choreographed the part of the Young Girl for Tamara in his ballet Cotillon, Concurrence and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Le Palais de Cristal (now Symphony in C).
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.

Irina Baronova was born in St. Petersburg on March 13, 1919. Irina Baronova was one of the three famous "Baby Ballerinas" along with Tatiana Riabouchinska and Tamara Toumanova. She moved to Paris during childhood. There she studied with Olga Preobrajenska and made her debut with the Paris Opera in 1930. George Balanchine noticed Irina as he watched classes and engaged her at age 13 for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in 1932.
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.

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