The Ukrainian Star of World Ballet

  • Post Category:Issue XX

Dmytro Vernyhor
Art expert


Abstract. The article deals with the life and career path of Serge Lifar, a Ukrainian world-class dancer, choreographer, theorist of choreography, historian and reformer of the 20thcentury ballet, Honorary President of the UNESCO International Dance Council.
Serge Lifar was a prolific artist, choreographer and director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, one of the most preeminent ballet companies in Western Europe.
Attention is drawn to the fact that pedagogical activity constituted a significant part of Lifar’s work. In 1947, he founded the French Academy of Dance, from 1955 he taught his-tory and theory of dance at Sorbonne University, having developed his own system of ballet dancers’ training and authored more than 20 works on ballet. In the same year, he was recognized as the best dancer and choreographer in France and was awarded the ‘Golden Shoe’. In 1957, he became the founder and rector of the Paris University of Dance.
The author emphasizes that Lifar’s creative heritage is huge. He choreographed more than 200 ballets and wrote 25 books on dance theory. Serge Lifar trained 11 ballet stars. Serge Lifar’s style, which he called choreographic neoromanticism, determined the ways of development of the European ballet art of the second half of the 20th century.
At the age of 65, Lifar showed his talent as a visual artist. His heritage includes more than a hundred original paintings and drawings, the main plot of which is ballet, dance, and movement. In 1972–1975, exhibitions of his works were held in Cannes, Paris, Monte Carlo and Venice.
His yet another passion was books. It all began with Serhii Diahiliev’s personal archive, which included a collection of theatrical paintings, scenery and a library. Lifar bought it from the French government for a one year’s salary at the Grand Opera.
In the USSR, Lifar’s name was concealed. Only in 1961, did he and his wife visit it for the first time as the Soviet authorities did not allow him to stage any ballet in the USSR.
He always felt he was Ukrainian and ardently promoted the history and culture of his people. In honour of the outstanding countryman, the Serge Lifar International Ballet Competition and the festival ‘Serge Lifar de La dance’ have been held since 1994 and 1995, accordingly.
Keywords: cultural diplomacy, art of artistic vision of choreography, Serge Lifar International Ballet Competition.

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