Maria Dare Dance History Collection

: Biography

Sergei Dare: a mystery man

Volinoff

of Denver Colorado

Program

Mr. Dare seems to have existed only for the dance.  He can be found in public records using names such as Roi Donald Dare, Roy D. Dare, R. Donald Dare, R. Ronald Dare. R.D. Dare. His life spanned the golden age of ballet.  Being close to the same age as Anna Pavlowa (b. 1885) Tamara Karsavina (b. 1885) and Vaslov Nijinski (b. 1890), he lived through many of the great moments in ballet’s history and knew a number of world class Male Dancers and Ballerinas from the decades that followed.  Sergei influenced the shape and scope of dance in Portland Oregon for his teaching career spanned about 40 years, and 2 reputable Portland studios - Lindendare School and Ballet House.   Most of all, Sergei loved the dance and taught divine classes.
(1887 - 1967)
Early Years
According to a WWII draft record, Roi Donald Dare was born 9 Jun 1887, in Sandwich Illinois (about 60 miles east of Chicago).  Little else is certain.  His family may have removed from Sandwich. Maria Dare stated that Sergei once returned to Chicago to ask advice from his mentor.  It is unknown if Sergei studied in Chicago when young, or if his “mentor” had relocated to Chicago.  This information came to light when Maria shared that once Sergei was frustrated with his teaching techniques; he was not getting desired results.  So Sergei went to Chicago to consult his mentor, who listened and replied, “You are starting with C.  You can’t start with C!  You must start with A, then B, then C!”  From Maria’s voice, when sharing his mentor’s words, it seemed Sergei’s mentor was a strong powerful personality and he spoke with an accent.

Sergei’s teaching skills suggest that he studied with a number of Ballet Masters.  It is unknown where, when, or for how long.  In the 1990's, Maria and I would recuperate after class with coffee and a snack, before leaving her studio. I once commented that a pointe combination injected into her class seemed different from her usual style. She replied that Sergei had gotten it from Cecchetti. I said, "Sergei studied with Cecchetti?" She replied, "Yes." I asked "When?" Maria replied, "When he was in Europe." I asked, "When was he in Europe?" Maria replied, "Oh he did that. He would find a teacher with whom he wanted to study and he'd just pick up and go."  The Maria Dare Dance History Collection has notes in Sergei’s hand for Cecchetti and Legat.  Additional details about his training and performance career remain illusive.
Life with Elin Linden
Roy Donald Dare married Elin Linden, 25 Feb 1921, in Lake Co., Indiana.  By 1928 they were teaching in Portland Oregon at their Lindendare School of Dance.  Perhaps their school fell on hard times after the Great Depression struck or Sergei/Elin had relatives in Denver, or perhaps they were trying to launch a platform to support a professional touring company.  Perhaps all 3 speculations apply.  All that is certain is that US City Directory for 1934 Denver Colorado lists the Sergei Volinoff Dance Studio without mention of Elin.  But in May 1934, Sergei promoted a performance of Mme Elinova followed by a 3 week summer workshop held June 1934, Denver (from a program).   In Spring 1935, Sergei taught at Lindendare in Portland.  In 1935 Denver Directory, listed Sergei Volinoff as instructor for Mme Natalie Elinova Dance School of Denver.  In 1937, Sergei Volinoff was teaching in Denver, 1 of 27 dance schools listed in the Denver Directory. In 1938 Denver, Natascha Elinova was a teacher for the Sergei Volinoff Dancing Academy.  Music has also been found for a Sergei Volinoff School of Dance in Seattle Washington.  The date for Seattle School remains unknown and it probably did not last long.  Sometime between 1938 and 1943, Sergei and Elin’s marriage melted away.
Life with Maria Boehme
In Feb. 1941 Sergei was active in Portland’s La Scala Opera production.  The program listed him as Donald Dare of La Scala, Milan.  (Did he get swept away with the La Scala fantasy, or had he been to Italy between 1938 and 1941?) In Dec. 1941 The Ballet Club Theatre presented a program of dances at The Ballet House Studio, 918 SW Washington Street, Portland OR.  Maria Boehme appeared in 5 of the 9 dances.

Maria Boehme had studied and performed with the Lindendare School.  She had been a guest instructor/performer for Sergei and Elin in Denver.  After Sergei’s return to Portland, Maria became a teacher and lead dancer for The Ballet House.  After a few years, Maria and several of Sergei’s dancers went to Los Angeles to launch their careers and study.  Sergei also went to Los Angles, opening a dance supply store.  Roi D Dare married Maria E Boehme, 14 Jul 1943, in California.

Around 1949, Maria’s family needed her help in Portland OR.  Sergei and Maria Dare returned to Portland and reopened The Ballet House.  When they abandoned Portland for LA, they had a large clientele.  When they returned and reopened, it took 5 months, before the 1st student enrolled.  But, The Ballet House survived and grew into a leading professional preparation school, one of Portland’s top 5 dance studios.
Final Years
Sergei and Maria operated The Ballet House together, with Sergei as lead instructor, teaching ballet & character.  I knew Sergei during his last 7 years of life. He taught amazing classes, the best I have ever encountered. At the end of his teaching career, he was in a wheelchair, yet he still taught amazing classes.  His complex combinations forced the body to align properly, forced the mind to work.  His pace forced the body to reach for its limits.  His music selections lifted the soul to timeless air. 

Finally, it became difficult to get Sergei up the 3 flights of stairs that led to the studio.  As a result, Maria taught more and more, Sergei less and less.  He died at home, 10 Apr 1967, age 80.  If Sergei's life offers a message it is this. Anyone from anywhere can become by doing what is most loved. Want to learn something from someone? "Just pick-up and go."
Sergei’s Stories
Before and after classes Sergei told amazing stories about the dance, so amazing that each listener at some point wondered silently, "Are you making this up?"  I had that feeling when Sergei informed me that he was one of the few men in the world that had seen the 3 greatest Russian dancers in class.  He attended a class with Vaslav Nijinsky and George Balanchine.  It was toward the end of Nijinsky’s career, and  Balanchine  was starting his career.  He saw,  Rudolph Nureyev in Sergei’s own studio.   Sergei also told this story to, Phil, a classmate of mine.  According to Phil, Sergei thought Nureyev was the best of the 3 and when Sergei told this to Nureyev, Nureyev was most humbled.

After exhaustive research, I cannot prove this story true or false.  It is possible, as Nijinsky was just 3 years older than Sergei. Their peak dance years would have been during the same years.  Maria said Sergei had been to Europe, and Nijinsky toured USA at the end of his career. Balanchine and Nijinski were in Ballet Russes classes together around 1924. There are gaps in records for Sergei.  Was he there but under a different name, or had he picked up and gone someplace where Nijinski and Balanchine were in class?  There is a gap in Dance Magaines in the collection. Were the Dare's in Europe, or did someone else purchase those magazines from Maria's estate?  I know for a fact that Margot Fonteyn and Nureyev rehearsed at The Ballet House (One Saturday, Maria gave us permission to enter the studio, I swung the dressing room door open and nearly hit Fonteyn with door.  Nureyev was exiting through the office door.)

More rumor than story was that Sergei had 3 copies of Anna Pavlowa's death mask in his possession.  The rumor circulated the dressing room about once per decade.  No one ever saw the masks.  I can assure you, this rumor was true.  A person, who wishes to remain anonymous, purchased them after Maria (Boehme) Dare died.

Stage Names: 

Sergei Dare

,

Sergei Volinoff

of Portland OR, Denver CO

Above no year provided but May 10, fell on a Thurs. in 1928 & 1934.
Transcribed:

The University of Colorado
presents
Elinova
in a program of Spanish Dances
assisted by
Leon W. Cosles, Pianist
Thursday evening, May 10, at 8:00 o'clock
Macky Auditorium, Boulder, Colorado

1  Cordova (dance religioso) ... I. Albeniz
(Inspired by the dance of the Seises, which is danced before the hight alter in the Cathedral of Seville at Easter and Corpus Christi)
Elinova

2  Espana Cani, ... Marquina,
Leon W. Cowles

3a Dance of Terror (from El Amor Brujo), .. M. de Falla, (Ritual dance to drive away evil spirits)
Aires Andaluces, ... G. Gomez

3b Aires Andaluces, ... G. Gomez

3c Capa de Tereador, ... Gardell-Razzano,
Elinova

4a Playera ... E. Granados

4b Tango in D ... I. Albeniz
Leon W. Cowles

5 Malaguena ... Moszkowski
Elinova

Intermission six minutes

6 Ay, Ay, Ay, ... Spanish Creole Song, (transcribed by Grooms)
Leon W. Cowles

7a Peasant Dance (from the Province of Toledo) ... Guerrero

7b Classic Jota ... M. de Falla

7c Cruz de Mayo ... M. Font
Elinova

8 Bolero ... Moszkowski
Leon W. Cowles

9a El Garrotin ... Romero

9b Alegrias ... Valverde (Impression of the bullfight)

Elinova is under the exclusive management of Serge Volinoff

Special Announcement
A special summer school of the dance beginning June 9th offers an opportunity to study Spanish dancing with Elinova. These classes will be held at the Woman's Club. The course is of three weeks duration, lessons daily. Ballet, Toe and Character dancing will also be held at this time.

For information and rates address Serge Volinoff, 1437 Glenarm Pl., Denver Colo.

The Music of Sergei

Left:
Handwritten music sheet samples
from
Sergei Volinoff School of Dance
Denver CO
Background: Allegro 3/8
Foreground, from cover sheet giving school name and “taught by Maria Boemeva.”
Date: 1933-1938?
Left:
Handwritten music sheet from
Ballet House
Class Music
3/4 for “Temp de curante Cecchetti”
Date: mid 1940s
Left:
Handwritten music sheet from
Ballet House
Class Music
4/8 for “Rond de jambe a terre”
Date: mid 1940s
While Sergei was not a composer, he was an excellent recorder of music.  His music selections were magic carpets.  His hand written sheets grace the Maria Dare Dance History Collection.
Work began in 2017 to scan the oversized class music sheets.  They are not yet ready for any review. 
A list of Music for dances contained in the collection has been posted.
This site contains opinions, not facts

© = Rozanne W. Faulkner, 11/12/2017
All Rights Reserved
Page Updated 12 Dec 2017

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