Maria Dare Dance History Collection
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Dance Masters & Ballerinas

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Serge Diaghilev


& Ballet Russes

Prior to Diaghilev, Ballet had existed for centuries in disjointed areas.  By 1900, France, Italy, & Russia were strong regional epicenters.  About 1909, Serge Diaghilev, a Russian art critic & ballet lover, gathered together a group of talented Russian ballet dancers & ballerinas.  The group began performing outside of Russia.  Then ballet impresario Diaghilev, moved his group to Europe.  His ballet company, Ballet Russes, continued to assemble the finest dancers as they toured the world.  As Ballet Russes evolved, it accepted non-Russian dancers into the company.  In doing so, it united previously disjointed regional groups, & turned ballet into a form of communication without borders.  Ballet Russes became the Internationally known, must see company.

Nikolai Legat

(1869-1937) age 68
Nikolai and brother, Sergei, trained with their father. They became dancers with Russian Imperial Ballet.  Nikilia Legat danced with Imperial Ballet 1888-1914 and with Mariinsky Ballet, but had a flare for choreography & preferred to teach.  Nikolai succeeded Petipa as ballet master, later he became the director of the Imperial school.  Nikolai preserved the works of Marius Petipa.  His students included  Agrippina Vaganova, Tamara Karsavina, Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky and Adolph Bolm.  In 1923, Nikolai replaced Cecchetti as ballet master for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in France.  In 1926, Nikolai opened his own school in London.  There his student list included, Alexandra Danilova, Margot Fonteyn, Ninette de Valois, Anton Dolin.  Nikolai Legat died in London; his wife, Nadine Nicolaeva, continued to run the school.  Nadine had been a Prima Ballerina for Imperial, State theatres of Moscow and St. Petersburg.  She was also a gifted choreographer.

Vera Trefilova

(1875 - 1843) age 68
Grigoriev, in his book Diaghilev Ballet 1909-1929, stated that in 1924 "For the chief part in Le Lac des Cygnes, Diaghilev invited Trefilova, the best of all Princess Auroras even at the Mariinsky, and she amazed everyone at Monte Carlo by her extraordinary fouettes."  She did 32 fouettes without batting an eye. Also known for her performances in Surge Legat's The Fairy Doll (1903) and Mikhail Fokine's The Night of Terpsichore (1907) and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
Trefilova had an ad and is listed in the credits of the 1929 Lindendare program.
   Trefilova was born 1875 Vladikavkaz.  In 1894, she joined the Maryinsky Theatre, promoted to soloist in 1901, to Prima Ballerina in 1906  She resigned in 1910 and left Russia in 1917. By 1929, the Mme. Vera Trefilova School of Dance was operating at 33 Rue Pergolese, Paris, France and taught Classic Ballet, Toe, and Character dance. She died in Paris, 1943.
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