There is never a dull moment in this collection of interviews with dancers associated in one way or another with the various companies collectively described as the ‘Ballets Russes’. The book tells their story from the Diaghilev period, through the de Basil, Blum and Denham years, right up to the final days of the Marquis de Cuevas’ company, and concludes with an ‘Afterword’ with John Neumeier. Tamara Karsavina, who died in 1978, is included, by means of an interview with her friend the dancer Rachel Cameron, but it is the later generations, from Alexandra Danilova (born 1903) to Maina Gielgud (born 1945) that are best represented. (more…)

Advertisements

This is ‘not a conventional autobiography’ but it is a fascinating and inspiring account of 75 years of work in dance and theatre. Immensely humorous, Wright seems to have known almost everybody in the ballet world, and he conjures up vivid images of dips in the freezing January sea with Henry Danton at Eastbourne in the 1940s, Princess Margaret backstage at the Birmingham Hippodrome holding her breath to avoid the whiff from the gents’ loo, or of Michael Somes who could be ‘very difficult’, ‘particularly at full moon’.

For those of us outside the professional ballet world, the book sometimes ‘joins the dots’, and fills the gaps that other, more discreet, accounts have left in obscurity. I imagine that Wright’s colleagues and acquaintances will have looked for their names in the index with some trepidation, for he is almost as frank about the living as he is about the dead. (more…)

Part biography, part memoire, this very enjoyable book gives an account of the life of a dancer about whom we know relatively little in the UK, and offers a new perspective on the history of classical ballet since the 1920s.

Tatiana Leskova was born in Paris in 1922 of “White Russian” parents.  Chance, talent, war and romance led her to settle in Brazil, where she was instrumental in developing ballet at the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro.  A pupil of Lubov Egorova in Paris, she missed her opportunity to join the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo because her father thought her too young, but a year later joined the rival company that became de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe. (more…)