Sir Anton Dolin was born in Slinfold in Sussex, England. Dolin was trained by the notable Russian teachers Serafima Astafieva and Bronislava Nijinska. Anton joined the Corps de Ballet of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1921. As a soloist with Diaghilev’s company, he created the leading role in Nijinska’s Train Bleu (1924) and an important role (one of two Servants) in George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son (1929). Dolin was also noted for such creations as Satan in Ninette de Valois’s Job (1931) and the title role in Michel Fokine’s Bluebeard (1941).
Dolin was a Principal danseur with the Vic-Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet) in the 1930s where he danced with Alicia Markova. Later, Dolin and Markova went on to found the Markova-Dolin Ballet. In 1949, he and Markova founded another company that in 1950 became London’s Festival Ballet; Dolin was premier danseur and artistic director until 1961. He then organized and toured with the troupe Stars of the Ballet, worked as choreographer and director of the Rome Opera Ballet, and served as artistic adviser to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
As a Choreographer, Dolin's original ballets include Capriccioso (1940), The Romantic Age (1942), and Variations for Four (1957), a popular all-male divertissement. Dolin is particularly noted for his reconstruction (1941) of Jules Perrot’s classical divertissement, Pas de Quatre.
Dolin wrote several books, including the autobiography Ballet Go Round (1938) and Alicia Markova: Her Life and Art (1953). He was knighted in 1981, and died in Paris, France in 1983.
Alexandra Danilova, or Choura, was born in Peterhorf, Russia on November 20th in 1903. She trained at the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersberg, Russia. After her graduation, she was asked to join the Corps de Ballet of the Soviet State Ballet at the Maryinsky Theatre. Danilova left Russian with the Soviet State Dancers, a company formed by fellow dancer Vladimir Dimitriev. During summer vacation from performances at the Maryinsky, the company toured Berlin, Germany and the dancers defected, never to return to Russia again. The company left Berlin, heading to London, where Danilova joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1924. When Danilova was asked to audition for Diaghilev, she refused, telling him, "If I am good enough for the Maryinsky, then I am good enough for you." That same year, George Balanchine joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as choreographer.
When Diaghilev died suddenly in 1929, his company was disbanded. Dancers were left to find other companies to dance for, but Danilova was 28 and considered too old for most companies. She was eventually offered a position with the new Col. de Basil's Ballet Russe , by her friend Leonide Massine.
Quickly, as one of the most popular dancers of her time, many theatre's would not book Col. de Basil's Ballet Russe without Danilova! She danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1938 - 1945 where she was often partnered by Freddie Franklin. Danilova also guested with Sadler Wells in 1949, London Festival Ballet in 1952 and created her own "Great Moments of Ballet" tour dancing from 1954-1956.
Her last ballet performance was in 1957, but she appreared in a Broadway comedy/musical in 1958 called Oh, Captain!. She appeared in a single scene, a dance with the show's star, Tony Randall, which stole the show. Danilova was never good at handling her finances and found herself broke and unemployed again when ran into her friend George Balanchine on the streets of
During her career, Danilova danced all the major ballerina roles and created principal roles in Balanchine works like The Triumph of Neptune (1926), Le Bal (1928), Dances concertantes (1944) and La sonnambula (1946). and she Choreographed Coppelia for NYCB in 1974. Danilova was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989. Danilova did make an appearance in the movie "The Turning Point" as a ballet teacher and coach.
Her autobiography, Choura, was published in 1986. There is a fabulous little documentary on Felia Doubrovska, that Danilova appears in. She and Felia are restaging a variation for Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Vera was born in
In the 1920s, Vera Karalli taught dance in
Enrico Cecchetti was an Italian ballet dancer, and founder of the Cecchetti method of ballet. He was the son of two dancers from Civitanova Marche. He was born on June 21, 1850 in the dressing room of the Teatro Tordinona in Rome. After an illustrious career as a dancer in Europe, he went to dance for the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Cecchetti was praised for his agility and strength in his performances as well as his technical abilities. By 1888, he was widely accepted as the greatest ballet virtuoso in the world.
Cecchetti originated such roles as both the Bluebird and Carabosse in Petipa's masterpiece, The Sleeping Beauty. By performing in these two contrasting roles, Cecchetti showed Russian audiences that men could perform all the ballet steps that were usually reserved for women. In 1919, Cecchetti performed at the inaugural performance of the ballet La Boutique Fantasque in London, appearing in the role of the shopkeeper. Cecchetti restaged many ballets, including Petipa's definitive version of Coppélia in 1894, from which nearly all modern versions of the work are based.
Cecchetti turned to teaching. He taught at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg from 1887 — 1902, and then the Warsaw State School in Poland from 1902 — 1905. Returning to St. Petersburg in 1905, he established a school there. From 1907-1909, he coached Anna Pavlova exclusively until dancers from the Maryinsky pleaded with him to open his classes to them again. When Diaghilev's Ballets Russes was scheduled to tour, the dancers refused because they would miss their daily classes with Cecchetti. In 1910, Diaghilev hired Cecchetti as both Ballet Master and mime. Cecchetti performed many mime roles which were created expressly for him by choreographers of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Cecchetti's presence in Diaghilev's Ballets Russes was very important. He was the link between the past and the present, contributing to the birth of modern classical ballet. He also maintained the technical level of the dancers by enabling them to cope with the physical and dramatic challenges of the company's demanding choreographers.
Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes toured through Europe, the United States, South America, and Australia. Eventually having had enough of life on the road, Cecchetti settled in London, England where he opened a dance school in 1918. Considered the technical marvel of the ballet world, it was said that no one could become a finished ballet dancer without passing through Cecchetti's hands. In 1923, he returned to Italy to retire but was invited by Arturo Toscanini to resume his teaching career at La Scala, his lifelong dream. While teaching a class, Cecchetti collapsed and was taken home, where he died the following day, November 13, 1928.
Henri Matisse (December 31, 1869 - November 3, 1954)
Henri Matisse was born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis,
Due to the decline of the Fauvist movement, after 1906, Matisse became an active part of the great gathering of artistic talent in
Matisse’s style of art during the post-World War I period, can be compared with the neoclassicism of Picasso and Stravinsky, and the return to traditionalism of Derain. Derain, Picasso and Stravinsky were all friends of his who he worked with on several Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo projects.
The Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, was the most significant composer of the 19th century. He wrote the music for three ballets: Swan Lake, commissioned by the Bolshoi Ballet premiered in Moscow in 1877, The Sleeping Beauty (photo below) in 1890 and The Nutcracker in 1892. To this day, they remain the most popuar ballet scores of all time.
Tchaikovsky was the son of a well-to-do engineer. He received a sound education from his French governesses. Later he attended school in St. Petersburg studying law and government, graduating at 19. He took a job as a bureau clerk. He then met the Rubenstein brothers, who in 1862 opened Russia's first conservatory, The Imperial Russian Music Society. Tchaikovsky was its first composition student.
Much of Tchaikovsky's concert music has been used by choreographers throughout the years. He was the first Rusian compposer to achieve renoen beyond Russia's borders. he was instrumenta; in establishing a place for Russian music in the repertories of Western concert hals and musical theaters.
In Scene I, The Christening, Leon was a Page to the Cherry Blossom Fairy, Lena was a Lady-in-Waiting and Vera was the Carnation Fairy. Scenen II, The Spell, Leon was the Indian Prince, Lena the Village Maiden and Vera one of Princess Aurora's Friends. In Scene III, The Vision, Lena was a Nymph and Vera was a Baroness. To see images of the program go to our Photos page.