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

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 Vintage Photos Feat. Amazing Ballerina Ida Rubinstein

Ida Rubinstein (1883-1960) was a famous Russian ballerina, actress, patron and Belle Époque figure.

As an idol of the fin de siècle, she was renowned for her beauty, mimetic powers and enormous wealth. She was a significant patron and she tended to commission works that suited her abilities, works that mixed dance with drama and stagecraft.

She was born in Kharkiv (Ukraine) and was orphaned at an early age. The family was wealthy, cultured and Russified, a merchant-banking clan that had moved up the social ranks; her father’s title, Hereditary Honorary Citizen, conferred gentry status.

She made her debut in 1908 in a private performance of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. The part brought her to the attention of Serge Diaghilev (1872–1929), who included her in the earliest Paris seasons of his celebrated Ballets Russes.

She was not in the top tier of ballerinas; she began her training too late for that to have been a possibility. Because of her limited dance training, she was cast in “mime” roles such as Cleopatra (1909) and Ta-Hor in Schéhérazade (1910), which capitalized on her dark, exotic looks and stunning stage presence. Both ballets were choreographed by Fokine, and designed by Léon Bakst. Her partner in Scherazade was the great Nijinsky. Rubinstein left the Ballets Russes in 1911.

By the 1920s she had become a grande dame of the French theatre. In 1928 Rubinstein formed her own dance company, using her inherited wealth, and commissioned several lavish productions. Her last performance was in the play Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher in Paris, 1939.

In 1940 she left France during the German invasion, and made her way to England via Algeria and Morocco. She later returned to France, living finally at Les Olivades at Vence, where she lived in strict seclusion, reading the Bible and occasionally visiting the Abbey of Cîteaux. She died in 1960 and was buried nearby.

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Ida Rubinstein, 1912 via

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Ida Rubinstein via

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Ida Rubinstein, Antoine and Cleopatre, 1920 via

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Ida Rubinstein in the Ballets Russes production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheharazade’, 1910 via

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Ida Rubinstein, 1922 via

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Ida Rubinstein with a baby leopard by Otto Wegener, via

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Ida Rubinstein by Otto Wegener, via

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Ida Rubinstein by Otto Wegener, via

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Ida Rubinstein, 1920s 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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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.

Amazing Photos of the First Modern Dancer Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927)  is known as the mother of  “modern dance,” founding the “New System” of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.  She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance. She ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time.

Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment, she sought the connection between emotions and movement:

“I spent long days and nights in the studio seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body’s movement.”

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.”

Duncan took inspiration from ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom. This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet. Inspired by Grecian forms, her tunics also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes and pointe shoes did not. She was very inspired by ancient Greek art and utilized some of those forms in her movement. Duncan wrote of American dancing:

“let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”

Her focus on natural movement emphasized steps, such as skipping, outside of codified ballet technique. Duncan also cites the sea as an early inspiration for her movement. Also, she believed movement originated from the solar plexus, which she thought was the source of all movement. It was this philosophy and new dance technique that garnered Duncan the title of the creator of modern dance.

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Stunning Photos of Belle Epoque Beauty Cléo de Mérode

Dancer Cleo de Merode  (1875 – 1966) became famous at a young age. Born in Bordeaux, France, she came from an aristocratic family. Her father was a member of the Belgian nobility and a landscape painter.

In 1896, King Léopold II attended the ballet and saw Mérode dance. The 61-year-old Belgian King became enamoured with the 22-year-old ballet star, and gossip started that she was his latest mistress. Because the King had had two children with a woman reputed to be a prostitute, Cléo de Mérode’s reputation suffered, and she had to live with it for the rest of her life. Nevertheless, Cléo de Mérode became an international star, performing across Europe and in the United States. 

Mérode became renowned for her glamour even more than for her dancing skills, and her image began appearing on postcards and playing cards. A particular new hairstyle she chose at age 16 became the talk of Parisian women and was quickly adopted as a popular style – parted in the middle, pulled back over the ears and wound into a chignon at the back, often worn with metal band.

At the peak of her popularity, she chose to dance at the Folies Bergère, taking the risk to do something other elites of the ballet had never done before. Her performance gained her a whole new following. Her fame was such that Alexandre Falguière sculpted The Dancer in her image, which today can be seen in the Musée d’Orsay. In 1895, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec did her portrait, as would Charles Puyo, Alfredo Muller, and Giovanni Boldini.

Mérode continued to dance until her early fifties, when she retired to the seaside resort of Biarritz in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département of France. In 1955, she published her autobiography, Le Ballet de ma vie (The Dance of My Life).

She died in 1966 and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris in Division 90. A statue of her, mourning her mother, who is interred in the same plot, decorates the gravestone.

Carte postale, (envoyée en 1901), illustrée d’une photographie de Cléo de Mérode en costume de scène via

Studio NPG, Portrait of Cleo de Merode, 1903 via

Cléo de Mérode by Leopold Reutlinger, 1900 via

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Cléo de Merode by Charles Ogerau, 1893 via

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Cléo de Mérode, 1910 via