Serge Lifar as Sergeant in Barabau (Primary Title)
Serge Lifar as Sergeant in Barabou (Former Title)
One of the greatest male ballet dancers of the 20th century, Serge Lifar (1905-1986) studied with Bronislava Nijinska in his hometown of Kiev before moving in 1923 to Paris, where his abilities as an athletic dancer with a charismatic stage presence caught the eye of Sergei Diaghilev. By 1925, when Man Ray made this portrait, Lifar had been promoted to principal dancer of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and was widely considered to be the successor to Vaslav Nijinsky, who had retired in 1916 after a brief yet dazzling career. Like Nijinsky, Lifar electrified French audiences with his technical sophistication and virtuosity. Man Ray’s portrait was made for publicity purposes related to Lifar’s role as Sergeant in the Ballets Russes’s production of the comic ballet Barabau, which was first performed at London Coliseum theater on December 11, 1925, with choreography by George Balanchine and a musical score by Vittorio Rieti. The photograph conveys the comedic aspect of the ballet as Lifar, in heavy stage makeup, wears a tight-fitting military costume designed by the French artist Maurice Utrillo while jauntily brandishing a whip.
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