Alexandra Danilova in Neoclassical Ballet Appolon Musagète (1928)

Apollo (originally Apollon musagète and variously known as Apollo musagetes, Apolo Musageta, and Apollo, Leader of the Muses) is a neoclassical ballet in two tableaux composed between 1927 and 1928 by Igor Stravinsky. It was choreographed in 1928 by twenty-four-year-old George Balanchine, with the composer contributing the libretto. The scenery and costumes were designed by André Bauchant, with new costumes by Coco Chanel in 1929.

The scenario involved the birth of Apollo, his interactions with the three Muses, Calliope (poetry), Polyhymnia (mime) and Terpsichore (dance and song), and his ascent as a god to Mount Parnassus. The original cast included Serge Lifar as Apollo, Alice Nikitina as Terpsichore (alternating with Alexandra Danilova), Lubov Tchernicheva as Calliope, Felia Doubrovska as Polyhymnia and Sophie Orlova as Leto, mother of Apollo.

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Alexandra Danilova in Appolon Musagète, 1928 via

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Alexandra Danilova and Serge Lifar in Appolon Musagète, 1928 via

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Alexandra Danilova and Serge Lifar in Appolon Musagète, 1928 via

Vintage Photos of the Very Elegant Prima Ballerina Alicia Markova

Dame Alicia Markova DBE (1910 – 2004) was an English ballerina and a choreographer, director and teacher of classical ballet. Most noted for her career with Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and touring internationally, she was widely considered to be one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of the twentieth century. She was the first British dancer to become the principal dancer of a ballet company.

With Dame Margot Fonteyn, she is one of only two English dancers to be recognised as a prima ballerina assoluta. Markova was a founder dancer of the Rambert Dance Company, The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and was co-founder and director of the English National Ballet.

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Alicia Markova in Giselle, as she appeared for the first time with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas at the Empire Theatre, Paris, on November 21, 1953. Photo by Serge Lido via

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Alicia Markova – America’s Nutcracker Suite-heart © Maurice Seymour via

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The feisty Markova in Les Masques, 1933 via

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Dame Alicia Markova (Lilian Alicia Marks) dans La Chatte (Boris Kochno – Henri Sauguet – George Balanchine pour les Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev), ca 1927 via

Vintage Photos of Russian Prima Ballerina Alexandra Danilova

Aleksandra Dionisyevna Danilova (1903 – 1997) was a Russian-born prima ballerina, who became an American citizen. In 1989, she was recognized for lifetime achievements in ballet as a Kennedy Center Honoree.

Born in Peterhof, Russia on November 20, 1903, she trained at the Russian Imperial Ballet School in Leningrad (formerly and currently St. Petersburg). She was one of the few Russian-trained ballerinas to tour outside Russia. Her first professional post was as a member of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet.

In 1924, she and George Balanchine left Russia. They were soon picked up by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; Danilova as a dancer, Balanchine as a choreographer. Danilova toured for years with the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, then with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo after Diaghilev’s death.[1] With the latter company, Danilova andFrederic Franklin created one of the legendary ballet partnerships of the twentieth century. Danilova became known for her glamour and beautiful legs, as well as her work ethic and professionalism.

Danilova made her Broadway debut in 1944’s Song of Norway; her last ballet performance was in 1957.

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Alexandra Danilova photographed by George Platt Lynes, c. 1930s via

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 Alexandra Danilova as a star of Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe  (1936)  by Maurice Seymour. Courtesy of Ronald Seymour/Maurice Seymour Archive via

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Alexandra Danilova in Ballet Russe’s Nutcracker via

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F. Franklin and Alexandra Danilova by Irving Penn, 1948 via

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The Legs of Danilova, New York by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1950 via

Alexandra Danilova dances in Gaite Parisienne

Ninette de Valois (1932)

A key figure in 20th-century British ballet, Ninette de Valois (1898-2001) was a dancer, teacher, choreographer and director of classical ballet. But perhaps most importantly she was the Founder of The Royal Ballet, The Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School.

In 1923, de Valois joined the Ballets Russes, the renowned ballet company founded by the Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev. She remained with the company for three years, being promoted to the rank of Soloist, and creating roles in some of the company’s most famous ballets

In 1931 de Valois established the Vic-Wells Ballet with a nucleus of six girls and herself as principal dancer. They were later called the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, after the theatres where the company danced.

When De Valois decided to produce Giselle, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Princess in full, it  was the first time classical ballets had been a regular part of a company’s repertory outside Russia.

In 1947 de Valois was made CBE and in 1951 was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Today she is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of ballet and as the ‘godmother’ of English ballet.

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Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet, in Douanes, England, 1932 via

A Collection Of Vintage Photos featuring Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova  (1881 – 1931) was a Russian Empire ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She is widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history and was most noted as a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev.

Young Pavlova’s years of training were difficult. Classical ballet did not come easily to her. Her severely arched feet, thin ankles, and long limbs clashed with the small and compact body in favour for the ballerina at the time. Her fellow students taunted her with such nicknames as The broom and The little savage. Undeterred, Pavlova trained to improve her technique and  took extra lessons from the noted teachers of the day. Many of her famous qoutes are about hard work paying of e.g.:

Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work

Pavlova is perhaps most renowned for creating the role of The Dying Swan, a solo choreographed for her by Michel Fokine. The ballet, created in 1905, is danced to Le cygne from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.

While touring in The Hague, Pavlova was told that she had pneumonia and required an operation. She was also told that she would never be able to dance again if she went ahead with it. She refused to have the surgery, saying “If I can’t dance then I’d rather be dead.” She died of pleurisy, three weeks short of her 50th birthday.

Anna Pavlova, costumed as The dying swan (5)

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Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova

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Anna Pavlova

The Dying Swan

The short ballet follows the last moments in the life of a swan, and was first presented in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1905. Pavlova performed the dance about 4,000 times. The ballet has since influenced modern interpretations of Odette in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and has inspired non-traditional interpretations and various adaptations.