2 3 Throwback Thursday and Léonide Massine | Ballet Webb

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday and Léonide Massine

Throwback Thursday and Léonide Massine

Leonid Fyodorovich Miassin  was born in Russia on July 28th or August 9th (depending on the calendar) in 1896. Gifted and prolific, during his career he choreographed more than fifty ballets, and is regarded as one of the most important figures in dance in the 20th century.

Massine’s early training was in acting as well as in dance at the Imperial School in Moscow. He was leaning toward becoming an actor when Diaghilev, seeking a replacement for Nijinsky, asked Massine to join his company. Massine made his Paris debut in La Légende de Joseph in 1914 and the critics commented favorably on his stage presence and dance ability. Diaghilev oversaw his education in the arts by taking him to museums and concerts and introducing him to people like Stravinsky. All of this influenced his approach to choreography.

Massine’s first piece of choreography was Le Soleil de Nuit (Midnight Sun) in 1915, and it was followed by such famous works as La Boutique Fantasque, The Three-Cornered Hat, and Gaîté Parisienne. He used folk and character dance extensively in his works, and expanded the complexity of the choreography for the corps de ballet. His choreography was also known for following the structure of the music. Throughout his life, he continued to create traditional ballets, as well as works  that were more contemporary and sometimes controversial (Choreartium).

In 1966 he joined the Ballet de Monte Carlo as director and choreographer. He expanded into film by acting and dancing in the movies The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman. He authored two books: My Life in Ballet (1968), and Massine on Choreography (1976).

Léonide Massine died on March 15, 1979 in Germany.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #76:  
Léonide Massine was a famous dancer and choreography with the Ballet Russe.

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“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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