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

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