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Lubov Tchernicheva of the Diaghileff Ballet Company as Cleopatra, photographed by Malcolm Arbuthnot, London, 1918

January 12, 2013

front cover of the December 1918 issue of The Dancing Times, London,
with colour halftone portrait of Lubov Tchernicheva (1890-1976), Russian ballet dancer,
of the Diaghileff Ballet Company in the ballet Cleopatra
(photo: Malcolm Arbuthnot, London, 1918)

‘Australians who visited London in the years just before the war will remember the vogue of the Russian ballet – the joys of Pavlova’s dancing, the manly form of M. Mordkin, the grace and agility of Nijinsky, and the stately beauty of Mdlle. Karsavina (writes a London lady). For two years Russian has been in eclipse, even from the stanpoint of art. However, there is now a change for the better, and a Russian ballet is once more being performed at a London theatre. M. Diaghileff’s company, which charmed London seven years ago, has returned to the Coliseum with a wonderful combination of dance, music, spectacle, and dramatic miming. The well-known ballet, with music by Arensky, covering a version of the Cleopatra myth, is given in the afternoon, and a comedy-ballet, with music by Domenico Scarlatti, is staged in the evening. The story of the evening production is based on a play by Goldini. The scene is laid in Venice in carnival time. It deals with the merry pranks of 18th century carnival keepers, and includes a wonderful supper scene. Imagine a company of dancers gyrating through a supper. Yet the Russian ballet company do it with perfect grace and charm. Mdlle. Lydia Lopokova, the principal dancer, is as delightful as any of her predecessors, and is splendidly supported by the company. The delight of the Russian ballet, of course, lies in the fact that it is not a ballet. It is a mixture of arts, as Wagnerian opera is a blend of music, drama, epic poetry, and spectacle. The ballet dresses, designed by Bakst, are alone worth a visit. The music is as delightful as anything to be heard at a West-End concert room; the plot of the ballet is far more complex and amusing than most comic operas. The miming of Mdlle Lydia Lopokova, Mme. Lubov Tchernicheva, M. Leonide Massine, and M. Idzikovsky is much more entertaining than most efforts on the London state at present. The Russian ballet, therefore, offers something for all tastes.’
(The Daily News, Perth, Western Australia, Wednesday, 27 November 1918, p. 3a/b)

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