Among his many ballet partners were Alicia Markova, Irina Baronova, Agnes de Mille, Ruthanna Boris, Yvette Chauvire
, Moira Shearer, Rosella Hightower, Maria Tallchief, Tamara Toumanova, and Alicia Alonso.
Two of the legendary French dancers of the last century were the extraordinary Jean Babilee and the ballerina Yvette Chauvire
France has produced many celebrated soubrette dancers--such as Zizi Jeanmaire and Colette Marchand--but apart from the unique Balanchine-oriented, Franco-American Violette Verdy and the more recently celebrated Sylvie Guillem, only two French prima ballerinas have won international accolades: Yvette Chauvire
, born in 1917, and Nina Vyroubova, born four years later in the Crimea.
Occasionally my train of nostalgia would be interrupted by Vasiliev's mention of such recognizable names as Yvette Chauvire
, Eva Evdokimova, Maurice Bejart, John Neumeier, and the conductor Mexander Kopylov, all of whom were being honored for their "selfless service to the art of dance.
Even a two-week immersion season by the company at Covent Garden in 1954 (my diaries note that I saw eighteen ballets, mostly by Serge Lifar, spread over fourteen performances) did nothing to make me a fan, despite the presence of both the wondrous Yvette Chauvire
and the lustrous Nina Vyroubova, two of my most beloved ballerinas of the twentieth century.
It features Yvette Chauvire
, prima ballerina at what was then called the National Opera of Paris; 12-year-old Janine Charrat, who became a prima ballerina a few years later at the same institution; and Yugoslav dancer Mia Slavenska, eventually a star of Serge Denham's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
With his raspy voice and animated gesturing, he cajoles dancers in rehearsals or delights them in his memorabilia-laden apartment with passionate and irreverent recollections of his formidable career--dancing with Olga Spessivtseva, creating a role for Serge Lifar, forming a partnership with Yvette Chauvire
However, I have actually seen, with the exception of Marina Semyonova, all the other contestants for greatness in this century and although many appeal, particularly Alicia Markova, Alexandra Danilova, Yvette Chauvire
, and Maya Plisetskaya, I think I would have to choose Margot Fonteyn and Galina Ulanova.
, one of the young stars nurtured by Lifar, took the witness stand in a tutu: "Thanks to the maitre," she testified, "the Paris Opera was saved.
Actually, although this was my first sight of the Paris Opera Ballet, I had already seen many French dancers, including some of those from the Opera, in London--ranging from such spiffy newcomers as Jean Babilee (one of the three or four great male dancers of the century), Yvette Chauvire
(France's Fonteyn), Nina Vyroubova, Vladimir Skouratoff, Rende Jeanmaire, and some somewhat shaky upholders of the ancien regime as Solange Schwarz, Lucette Louvray, Serge Peretti, and even Lifar, himself.
It was there that she taught and coached such dancers as Yvette Chauvire
, Zizi Jeanmaire, Tatiana Riabouchinska, Andre Eglevsky, and Margot Fonteyn.