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Serge Lifar (Choreography)

Serge Lifar (15 April 1905 – 15 December 1986) was a French ballet dancer and choreographer of Ukrainian origin, famous as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the 20th century.

Lifar was born in Kiev, Russian Empire. His year of birth is officially shown as 1904 (as on a 2004 Ukrainian stamp commemorating his centenary), but there is good reason to believe it occurred in 1905.

He was the pupil of Bronislava Nijinska in Kiev. In 1921 he left Soviet Union and was noticed by Serge Diaghilev who sent him to Turin in order to improve his technique with Enrico Cecchetti. He made his debut at the Ballets Russes in 1923 where he quickly became a principal dancer. He played the lead roles in the ballets of George Balanchine and at the death of Diaghilev in 1929 he entered the Paris Opera Ballet and created his first ballet.

From 1930 on, Serge Lifar was immensely successful, essentially in his own ballet creations, notably with Les Crйatures de Promethee (1929), a personal version of Le Spectre de la rose (1931) and L'Apres-midi d'un faune (1935), Icare (1935) with costumes and decor by Picasso, Istar (1941) or Suite en Blanc (1943), which he qualified as neoclassical, all created for the Paris Opera.

As ballet master of the Paris Opera from 1930 to 1944 then 1947 to 1958, he devoted himself to the restoration of the technical level of the Paris Opera Ballet in order since the 1930s and until now to return it to its place as one of the best company in the world. He undoubtedly influenced Yvette Chauvirй, Janine Charrat and Roland Petit.

He died in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1986, aged 81.

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