Sunday, October 12, 2008

Serge Lifar (1905-1986) - Last Great Male Dancer of the Ballet Russe de Serge Diaghilev

Lifar in 'Zephir et Flore' (1925)

Lifar and Tamara Karsavina in 'Romeo et Juilette' ?

I've just come across these two clips of Serge Lifar - in the first, he conducts a class at the Paris Opera, and in the second he is performing the last part of 'L'Apres Midi d'un Faune' (choreography after Vaslav Nijinsky, music by ?)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Anna Pavlova - Solo to Rubenstein's 9th Symphony (1916)

Again, I have no knowledge about this footage.

It was taken in California in 1916 at the studio of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

It is extraordinary for the highly emotive second half.

Anna Pavlova

This film show Anna Pavlova in Grecian costume doing I know not what.

She seems strangely and surreptitiously supported in arabesque at the beginning. And then does a series of traveling bourrees round the stage and off to the wings. Accompanied by a beautiful fluid porte de bras.

Anna Pavlova - At Home and Traveling

This footage shows Anna Pavlova at home, and on some of her extraordinary travels to take ballet to people all round the globe. I love seeing her going off somewhere by camel!

It comes from a documentary about dance in general. And has Mikhail Baryshnikov as the talking head.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frederick Ashton (1904-1988)

When I was a kid living in London, I remember seeing Frederick Ashton as one of the Ugly Sisters in the Royal Ballet's 'Cinderella'.

I recall two things vividly.

The first was the psychologically complex characterization: the warm, teasing, self-centred, loving, vain, vulnerable, shy, sly, nervous ... monster! In comparison with Robert Helpmann's much more broad-brush-stroke panto creation - as the other sibling. Some of all this is captured in the following photos:

The second occurred at the Ball. Each sister was vie-ing for the tall handsome prince as partner, as opposed to the other short ordinary-looking one. Of course Helpmann's tough and go-getting sister wins out. But then cunningly and placatingly whispers something in her gentler sister's ear - drawing a surreptitious but long glance at the diminutive prince's crotch. With a slow lascivious smile spreading over her face!

After the performance, I was introduced to Ashton and asked him to sign a book I'd just been given about his choreography.

Without being able to think just what to say to such a young person, Ashton gently declared that it was raining outside and my book would need a mackintosh (raincoat) to get it home safely.
Royal Danish Ballet - Ellen Price (1878-1968) in the Opening Solo of 'La Sylphide' (1903)

Elle Price despite what her name suggests was a Danish ballerina. More information about her life and dancing can be found at:

Royal Danish Ballet (1906) - Valborg Borchsenius (1872-1949) in 'Zigeunerdansen fra Troubadouren'

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Royal Danish Ballet (May 1903) - Valborg Borchsenius (1872-1949) and Hans Beck (1861-1951) in 'Napoli'

Valborg Borchsenius et Hans Beck - 1900

Royal Danish Ballet (1902) - Clara Rasmussen and Margrethe Andersen

Friday, September 12, 2008

Anna Pavlova in an Unidentified Ballet in the 1920s

Anna Pavlova - 'The Fairy Doll' (1927) Part 2

This is the second part of the sequence of Anna Pavlova dancing in 'The Fairy Doll' in 1927.

Anna Pavlova - 'The Fairy Doll' (1927) Part 1

Anna Pavlova in her dressing room - 1920s

This is the first of two parts of Anna Pavlova in 'The Fairy Doll' (1927).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anna Pavlova - 'Californian Poppy'

Anna Pavlova dancing in 'Californian Poppy' sometime in the 1920's.

The costume very literally realizes the name of the ballet in its 'petals'.

Tamara Karsavina - More of the c1920 Kirov Class - the Battements and Jettes!

Some more of the footage of Karsavina's c1920 class at the Kirov Theatre.

The battements ...

and the jetes

Hope some more turns up!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

La Goulue - Louise Weber (1866-1929) - Cancan Star of Le Moulin Rouge

Adolph Bolm (1884-1958) - Famed Ballets Russes Dancer

Bolm and Karsavina in Firebird (1911)

Bolm in 'DanceMacabre' (1924)

This site ...

... has tons of photos of Bolm in various ballets and places him in the context of the Ballets Russes and C20 dance in general through listing publications and his papers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More 'Footage' of Nijinsky in 'L'apres midi d'un faune'

More footage if Nijinsky dancing in 'L'apres midi d'un faune' has appeared.

I suspect something like Jim Clark's 'poem animation' - see:

What do you think?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tamara Karsavina Exercises at the Mariinsky Theatre c1920

Finally I managed to locate the footage of Tamara Karsavina doing exercises at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersberg c1920.

Karsavina in 'Les Papillions'

Karsavina in 'Cleopatre'

Karsavina in 'Firebird'

There is so little film of any of the dancers from the Serge Diaghilev era of the 'Ballets Russes'.

Just fragments of footage of Anna Pavlova, Olga Spessitzseva, Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Alexand Alexandra Danilova and a tiny handful of others.

Friday, August 08, 2008

More of Olga Spessivtzseva (1895-1991) in Act One of 'Giselle'

I've come across more footage of Olga Spessivtzseva as 'Giselle'.

It is also from the only known film of her dancing which was recorded at the Savoy Theatre in London in 1932. Her Albrecht was another Ballets Russes dancer, Anton Dolin.

Anton Dolin in Les Ballets Russes 'Le Train Bleu' (1924)

The two clips below are essentially the same.

However, the first begins a little earlier in the ballet (as Giselle is coming out of her mother's cottage) and ends with Dolin chatting with Spessivtzseva about how much he enjoyed dancing with her.

The second begins with Giselle already out-of-doors and dancing, and ends with Dolin questioning her about identity of the composer of the music (not Adam) of one of her solos.

He is a bit brutally insistent with these questions, and doesn't really take it gently and slowly enough to allow her to consider a response.
Olga Spessivtzseva (1895-1991) in Act One of 'Giselle'

Another amazing find - of Olga Spessivtzseva in 'Giselle'!

Spessivtzseva is initially being interviewed by Anton Dolin, an old partner. And then dances part of Act One.

As you may know, her career was cut short by madness and hospitalization.

Then later in life she made some kind of recovery - though it may just have been that a 'suitable' medication was found.

She was the perfect dancer, dancing to her inner music own rather than that played by the orchestra.
Vaslav Nijinsky in 'L'apres-midi d'un faune' (1912)

Unbelievably, I noticed footage today of Nijinsky in 'l'apres-midi d'un faune'.

26 seconds worth, discovered in 2006 in the archive of Louis MAISTRE (1862-1948) and now uploaded onto YouTube by his descendant Christian Comte, with the accompanying information:

'nijinsky original movie of nijinsky dance 1912 film inédit de Nijinsky sur fragment de pellicule découvert en 2006 dans les archives de Louis Maistre'

The legendary dancer's movement seems strangely and evenly fluid, and so slightly unnatural.

And there are a couple of seeming 're-takes', like rap music where the record is being wound back and forward.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes - 'Ondine'

Margot Fonteyn - Rehearsing Daphnis and Cloe

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Margot Fonteyn - 'Firebird' (1959)

Fonteyn and Nureyev - 'Giselle' Act 2

Saturday, June 28, 2008

La Bayadere' - 'Kingdom of the Shades' (Rudolph Nureyev and the Paris Opera Ballet

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moving Glimpses of Great Dancers - Anna Pavlova (1881-1931)

Anna Pavlova in South Africa (1926) - A Close-Up

Talking to her Swans (1930)

Table Dancing (1920's)
Moving Glimpses of Great Dancers - Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)

In Redemption (1915)

Isadora Duncan at the Parthenon (1920)

Isadora Duncan on the Lido in Venice (Raymond Duncan 1903)