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Serge Lifar (1905–1986)

Author of Ma Vie

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Serge Lifar, born in Kiev, was introduced to ballet by Bronislava Nijinska and became her student. In 1920, he left Russia to join the Ballets Russes. Sergei Diaghilev sent him first to Italy to study with the legendary Enrico Cecchetti. Lifar made his debut with the Ballets Russes in 1923 and quickly rose to become a principal dancer. George Balanchine created memorable roles for Lifar in ballets he choreographed, including Apollo (originally called Apollon Musagète) in 1928 and The Prodigal Son in 1929. Following Diaghilev's death, Lifar was invited to become director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, which he helped re-invigorate and make one of the best ballet companies in the world. He also choreographed many works for the company. His collaboration with the Nazis in World War II led to calls for his resignation in 1958.
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