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Lydia Sokolova


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#1 innopac

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 09:36 PM

I have just finished Sokolova's wonderful book Dancing for Diaghilev and have been trying to find out about her life after Diaghilev died, which is when the book ends. Does anyone have any suggestions for resources I could follow up?

#2 leonid17

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

I have just finished Sokolova's wonderful book Dancing for Diaghilev and have been trying to find out about her life after Diaghilev died, which is when the book ends. Does anyone have any suggestions for resources I could follow up?


Lacking the glamour of some of the leading dancers of her era, Sokolova's life is difficult to track down, despite her creating a number of roles with Diaghilev's Ballet Russe and as a significant member of his company for many years.

Post 1929, and at various times, Lydia Sokolova was a teacher in London and among the dancers who studied with her were, Joan Benesh (of Benesh Notation), Diana Gould, the choreographer Andree Howard and Peggy van Praagh.

I have read that in 1932* Sokolova joined Woizikowski’s company at the Opera Comique in Paris and also appeared with the Camargo Society on London.

She late appeared in somewhat experimental films for television in the 1930’s.

It was perhaps, her misfortune that two lower status members of the Diaghilev Ballet Russe, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois formed companies in London and it was not until 1962 that she was invited to appear in the Royal Ballet’s revival of “The Good Humoured Ladies” staged by Massine a production which I witnessed.

Off-stage, I remember her as a tiny, animated spirit who wore an improbable wig.

Later she became well known to British audiences through the Diaghilev documentaries made by John Drummond for BBC TV.

She died in Sevenoaks England in 1974 aged 78.

* Cannot confirm this date and Woizikovsky was creating role in Balanchine ballets this year for Rene Blum's Ballet Russe and more possibly it was in 1935 she joined his company.

#3 innopac

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 12:24 PM

Thank you so much, leonid. I will try and track down Peggy van Praagh's memoir. Perhaps Sokolova is mentioned in that.

Dancing for Diaghilev is such a joy to read. For me it is up there with Theatre Street. I am curious to know how much editing Richard Buckle did to produce the book.

Here is one memory of Sokolova I just found:


The highlight of the refurbished repertoire was Les Sylphides, restaged
for us by Lydia Sokolova. This was an inspiration for all of us.
She breathed new life into the production and coached me in the Prelude,
an experience that I never forgot. She illuminated for me this lovely, simple
solo in a sensitive way that was surprising for a dancer who had been
famous for her character work in the Diaghilev company. She wafted
about the stage "listening to the voices," clad in a full-length mink coat
and a little cloche hat. She also generously helped me with the Girl in
Le Spectre de la rose, which I danced with Alexis Rassine. Alas, she
came only for the London season. We adored and revered her--a warm,
down-to-earth Englishwoman who had an enormous contribution to make
to English ballet but, it seems, was never asked.

"Dancing for Joy: A Memoir, Part Three" by Brigitte Kelly. Dance Chronicle, v22, n3 (1999), pp. 359-418



#4 leonid17

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 02:07 PM

Thank you so much, leonid. I will try and track down Peggy van Praagh's memoir. Perhaps Sokolova is mentioned in that.

Dancing for Diaghilev is such a joy to read. For me it is up there with Theatre Street. I am curious to know how much editing Richard Buckle did to produce the book.

Here is one memory of Sokolova I just found:


The highlight of the refurbished repertoire was Les Sylphides, restaged
for us by Lydia Sokolova. This was an inspiration for all of us.
She breathed new life into the production and coached me in the Prelude,
an experience that I never forgot. She illuminated for me this lovely, simple
solo in a sensitive way that was surprising for a dancer who had been
famous for her character work in the Diaghilev company. She wafted
about the stage "listening to the voices," clad in a full-length mink coat
and a little cloche hat. She also generously helped me with the Girl in
Le Spectre de la rose, which I danced with Alexis Rassine. Alas, she
came only for the London season. We adored and revered her--a warm,
down-to-earth Englishwoman who had an enormous contribution to make
to English ballet but, it seems, was never asked.

"Dancing for Joy: A Memoir, Part Three" by Brigitte Kelly. Dance Chronicle, v22, n3 (1999), pp. 359-418


Thanks for the info. I will download it.

Brigitte Kelly had published a memoir of Marie Rambert last year in paperback.


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