Know Ukrainians: Serge Lifar
Serge Lifar did not only conquered the world stage and gained well-deserved fame but he revived the French ballet as such and introduced the concepts that became the basis of neoclassicism.
This is how everything started
Unlike most guys who come to the ballet studio in the age of five years old, Serge began studying at sixteen. It's pretty late, but as you can see, the age is not a hindrance talent. Parents believed that their son should become a famous singer - no wonder his vocal evoked envy among the other choir members in which he sang. The boy himself was very keen on acting and finally convinced his parents that the theater needed him so much. Well, at the age of 12, Serge Lifar first came to the Kyiv Drama Theater of Opera and Ballet. Then he went on taking lessons in the Kyiv studio of Bronislava Nijinskaya, which led him ... to Paris!Photo artefact.org.ua
The Russian ballet by S. P. Diaghilev seemed a real dream. True, on the way to fulfillment of his cherished desire, Serge had to go through a small test. Crossing the border, he suffered a lot of fear: he had to leave his homeland illegally. As the artist himself recalled in his memoirs, he was shot at the borde, and he was wounded.
But fate rewarded the young ballet dancer for his diligence and devotion to his work. Diaghilev himself drew attention to him. He was just looking for a replacement for Václav Nijinsky - and made a choice in favor of Serge. However, preparation which he got in Kyiv was not enough, and Diaghilev sent Lifar to study in Italy recommending asking for help to the teacher, the virtuoso dancer Enrico Cecchetti, and not to ignore Anna Pavlova.
"Ukrainian till the end"
What happened next is known to every connoisseur of art. The artist took only a few years to win over the hearts of the French public. But in his native country his name was undeservedly forgotten. In Soviet books, next to his name, was the insidious inscription "traitor to the motherland". The artist appreciated the whole world, except for those who should be proud of an outstanding compatriot. By the way, Serge Lifar himself did not refuse from the roots and always stressed: he is Ukrainian. In a letter addressed to his beloved wife, he signed as follows: "I am a Ukrainian till the end".Photo pochemuha.ru
One day, Charles de Gaulle said he sincerely appreciated the contribution that Serge Lifar had brought to French culture. And he asked him to make a French passport. But the artist refused, not being afraid to say bold words: "I have never been and will not be a Frenchman, because my homeland is Ukraine". Nevertheless, in France Serge Lifar has staged more than 200 ballets, and also founded the Institute of Choreography at the Grand Opera.
Moreover, he managed to change his attitude towards the ballet as a whole. The thing is that earlier the dance was not considered a full-fledged genre in art. The ballet was shown after the high-profile opera premieres to prolong the audience's delight after the performance, without destroying the aftertaste. After the founding of the Institute of Choreography in Paris, Serge Lifar achieved equality. From now the ballet ceased to be regarded as the art of the lower caste. And since 1955 at the University of Paris, the Sorbonne a new course was launched which put the ballet on a scientific basis. Serge Lifar invited students to study the history and theory of dance. Now at the Sorbonne future ballet dancers could receive excellent training.Photo gettyimages.com
Serge Lifar took care of the discipline. As soon as the action began on the stage, the doors closed. The artist believed that those who could not come to the ballet in time, should not have a place in the auditorium. This was a surprise to the public. The theater has ceased to be an occasion to see others and to show oneself. Men no longer arranged feasts here, and women did not show luxurious decorations. The vector has shifted - from a sleek viewer to a talented artist. Moreover, Lifar believed that all participants in the performance are equal. There's no point in singling out someone, it's not the one who performs the role, but the one who plays the show. Therefore, Serge Lifar removed as an inconvenient way to encore, and also asked the audience not to come with flowers.
French chic attracted artists of any levels. Actors dreamed of getting at least a fraction of the glory that Serge Lifar could boast of. But the famous ballet dancer desperately yearned for his homeland. In Kyiv, he was able to hit as much as forty years after he crossed the border. He saw a sad sight. In the house, dear heart, the light was extinguished long ago. Arriving at the cemetery, Serge knelt in front of the parental grave ... In his memoirs, he described the moment of despair: "From bitterness and pain I fell to my knees. And I said to them: "It's me, your Sergey, your Sergunchik. I danced all over the world, but my closest people have never seen it".
Sketches and overtures
Few people know that Serge Lifar was also an artist. In general, this is no wonder. Among his friends were such great personalities as Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Marc Chagall ... These outstanding masters were engaged in scenography in Serge's productions.Photo 1stdibs.com
Art has always been on the pedestal, therefore, leaving the theater at the age of 65, Serge Lifar began to paint. The new occupation turned out to be something more than just a hobby. The ballet dancer developed technology, drew many pictures and, although eminent friends admired him, the maestro himself was rather modest. "I'm not an artist, only a choreographer who draws". He heard applauses of Cannes, Monte Carlo and Venice, that saw many masters in their time. And the artist himself remained faithful to the end of his days only to one muse - his majesty Art. Before his death, he asked for a bouquet of white lilies. Why? Lilies reminded of the role of Prince Albert in the ballet "Giselle"...
Cover photo pinterest.com