Suite en blanc
Lifar was born in Kiev and trained there by Bronislava Nijinska. He was accepted into the Ballets Russes in 1923, even though Nijinska thought he was not yet ready. Serge Lifar's career was delayed a year because he did not accept Serge Diaghilev's invitation to breakfast. Richard Buckle in his book Diaghilev said, "How lucky, though, we can exclaim, with hindsight! If the process of grooming Lifar for stardom had begun a year earlier than it did, Diaghilev might never have engaged Anton Dolin."
Diaghilev insisted that Lifar's training continue with Enrico Cecchetti, Nicolai Legat and Pierre Vladimirov. Lifar was very handsome, had a fine physique, and a great desire to be liked. He was known for his notorious and unscrupulous displays of ego. Partnering Alicia Markova at London's Drury Lane Theatre his extremely unprofessional jealousy of her triumph caused a minor scandal. In 1938 they danced again when Markova was making her debut in America. The ballet was almost ruined by Lifar's ungallant attempts to steal scenes, causing a critic to write that his performance in Giselle would justify changing the name of the ballet to Albrecht.
Gore Vidal tells of a conversation between himself and Antony Tudor. "I have always wanted to see Serge Lifar. Now I have. And it's all true..."
"What is true?" I asked.
Tudor replied, "He is every bit as bad -- no, dreadful -- as I've always heard."
Lifar eventually replaced Anton Dolin as Diaghilev's favorite when Dolin left to dance in Cochran's Revues with Vera Nemtchinova. Diaghilev made sure Lifar continued his daily classes with Enrico Cecchetti. Wherever Lifar went, Cecchetti was there to give his ward lessons. Lifar was the last of the Ballets Russes' premier danseurs, although Dolin did return to the company as one of the stars. Two of Lifar's greatest achievements as a dancer in the Ballets Russes were in Balanchine's Apollo and The Prodigal Son.
After Serge Diaghilev's death in 1929, Lifar became premier danseur of the Paris Opera Ballet, whose reputation had declined since the Victorian era. By 1933 he had become its Director and Professor of Dance .
In 1939 Lifar joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where he again danced with Alicia Markova, this time at London's Covent Garden. Despite being past his prime he gave dramatic and moving performances.
Lifar held the position of Director at the Paris Opera Ballet for 20 years, creating 90 percent of the choreography and dancing many leading roles. Although himself trained by Cecchetti, he replaced the Italian technique at the Opera with the modern Russian Vaganova School, named for the great Kirov teacher Aggripina Vaganova.
Lifar was as dynamic as he was controversial in his personal life. During World War II he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator, although this was never proven. Among the 25 books on dance and dancers that he wrote was his autobiography, Ma Vie (1965).
Author, filmmaker and video artist Charles Picq (1952-2012) entered working life in the 70s through theatre and photography. A- fter resuming his studies (Maîtrise de Linguistique - Lyon ii, Maîtrise des sciences et Techniques de la Communication - grenoble iii), he then focused on video, first in the field of fine arts at the espace Lyonnais d'art Contemporain (ELAC) and with the group « Frigo », and then in dance.
On creation of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon in 1980, he was asked to undertake a video documentation project that he has continued ever since. During the ‘80s, a decade marked in France by the explosion of contemporary dance and the development of video, he met numerous artists such as andy Degroat, Dominique Bagouet, Carolyn Carlson, régine Chopinot, susanne Linke, Joëlle Bouvier and regis Obadia, Michel Kelemenis. He worked in the creative field with installations and on-stage video, as well as in television with recorded shows, entertainment and documentaries.
His work with Dominique Bagouet (80-90) was a unique encounter. He documents his creativity, assisting with Le Crawl de Lucien and co-directing with his films Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux and 10 anges. in the 90s he became director of video development for the Maison de la Danse and worked, with the support of guy Darmet and his team, in the growing space of theatre video through several initiatives:
- He founded a video library of dance films with free public access. This was a first for France. Continuing the video documentation of theatre performances, he organised their management and storage.
- He promoted the creation of a video-bar and projection room, both dedicated to welcoming school pupils.
- He started «présentations de saisons» in pictures.
- He oversaw the DVD publication of Le tour du monde en 80 danses, a pocket video library produced by the Maison de la Danse for the educational sector.
- He launched the series “scènes d'écran” for television and online. He undertook the video library's digital conversion and created Numeridanse.
His main documentaries are: enchaînement, Planète Bagouet, Montpellier le saut de l'ange, Carolyn Carlson, a woman of many faces, grand ecart, Mama africa, C'est pas facile, Lyon, le pas de deux d'une ville, Le Défilé, Un rêve de cirque.
He has also produced theatre films: Song, Vu d'ici (Carolyn Carlson), Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux, 10 anges, Necesito and So schnell, (Dominique Bagouet), Im bade wannen, Flut and Wandelung (Susanne Linke), Le Cabaret Latin (Karine Saporta), La danse du temps (Régine Chopinot), Nuit Blanche (Abou Lagraa), Le Témoin (Claude Brumachon), Corps est graphique (Käfig), Seule et WMD (Françoise et Dominique Dupuy), La Veillée des abysses (James Thiérrée), Agwa (Mourad Merzouki), Fuenteovejuna (Antonio Gades), Blue Lady revistied (Carolyn Carlson).
Source: Maison de la Danse de Lyon