Monday, June 8, 2009

Dueling and ... Ballet!

'Le duel a l'epee et au poignard' Jacques Callot (1621)

I suspect the last thing you (or I!) would expect on this blog would be footage of ... a real duel with epees in France in the mid C20.

But to begin at the beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a very hot ballet student named Serge Lifar who was studying at the Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre in St Petersburg ...

... where he caught the 'eye' of Serge de Diaghilev ...

... who took the young man to Paris to join his Ballet Russe.

Mr Very Hottie subsequently created a number of important roles in works made for the famed ballet company ...

Serge Lifar in 'Zephir et Flore' (1925)

Serge Lifar Alice Nikitina 'Romeo and Juliet' (1926)

Serge Lifar Alexandra Danilova Apollon Musagete (1928)

Serge Lifar in 'Le fils prodigue' (Choreo: Balanchine/Music: Sergei Prokofiev (1929)

When the company dispersed on the death of Diaghilev in 1929, our boy joined the Paris Opera Ballet ...

Serge Lifar as Icarus in 'Icare' at the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1930s

... and made friends with the rich and famous ...

Serge Lifar and Coco Chanel (1937)

He enjoyed an internationally successful career as a dancer and choreographer, with only the occasional blip - such as his duel in 1958 with the Marquis de Cuevas ...

... which was in fact a staged publicity thing, over the less-than-totally-fabulous mounting of one of his ballets by the Marquis.

As you will have observed, the choreographer did sustain a little and itsy bitsy scratch.

So it must be concluded that he lived on into old-ish age ...

... cos he gave up his somewhat new and dangerous 'hobby' of dueling!


  1. Totally cool post about this fellow. Most all of us can tell the same story about our life. We are young and cute and then we are an old just happens.

    I once saw a photo book that compared dozens of young men with photos of them in later years...much later. It can be an education.

    Doug......los angeles

  2. hey doug

    i've seen a similar book (there are probably a lot like this out there) on male dancers - some look slightly altered or lived in - and others are quite unrecognizable - and some in the middle

    time can do strange things to people - if they're famous they can sometimes end up looking like impersonators of themselves

    'such is life' said the australian bush-ranger, ned kelly

    and acceptance is a great thing to learn - perhaps one of the most important, don't you think?

  3. Those first two guys, the ones in the Bloomers, find out where it is they bought them. I'd like to send off for a pair. I don't really like the knee ribbons though, I'll substitute buckles..."Bobby Shaftoe went to sea, Silver buckles on his knee, When he comes back he'll fuck me, Pretty Bobby Shaftoe".

  4. hey anon

    i reckon at 'sacks fifth avenue' - just a hunch - the sort of thing they'd keep as one of their more esoteric lines for the truly discerning - epees would be available in their next dept

    bet they sell the ribbons too and suggest an alternative is wearing them around the biceps

    and adding silver buckles as well (as you suggest) will ensure you get rooted for all your satorial efforts!