Yvette Chauviré

(b. 1917)

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(b Paris, 22 Apr. 1917)

French dancer and teacher. Widely considered to be the finest French ballerina of her generation. She studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School and later with Boris Kniaseff and Victor Gsovsky, joining the Paris Opera Ballet in 1936 She was a favourite of Lifar who did much to promote her at the Opera by giving her major roles early on in her career. She created her first solo role in his Le Roi nu (1936) and appeared in the film La Mort du cygne a year later. In 1941, at the age of 24, she was promoted to étoile of the Paris Opera after stunning audiences with her eighteen-minute solo in Lifar's Istar. She remained almost exclusively with the company until her retirement in 1972, although when Lifar was forced to leave the Opera for political reasons in 1946, she joined him for a season at the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo. On their return to Paris in 1947 Chauviré appeared in Lifar's ballet Les Mirages, in which she created the role of the Shadow, one of the parts most closely associated with her. She left the Opera again in 1949, and while returning in 1953, became a frequent guest with other companies, including the Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi. An elegantly classical dancer, possessed of exceptional personal glamour, she was especially renowned for her interpretation of Giselle (in which she made her farewell to the Paris Opera). She created roles in many of Lifar's ballets, including David triomphant (1937), Alexandre le grand (1937), Le Chevalier et la demoiselle (1941), Istar (1941), Joan de Zarissa (1942), Suite en blanc (1943), Dramma per musica (1946), Chota Roustaveli (1946), Nautéos (1947), Mirages (1947), La Péri (1957), and Constellations (1969). She also created a role in Cranko's La Belle Hélène in 1955, and the role of Marguérite in Gsovsky's La Dame aux camélias, first with the Berlin Ballet in 1957, then in an expanded version for Paris in 1960. She also created the female role in Gsovsky's famous Grand pas classique (1949), made for the Ballets des Champs-Elysées. From 1963 to 1968 she directed the Paris Opera Ballet School and from 1970 she directed the International Academy of the Dance in Paris. Although retired, she continued to make occasional stage appearances, including Lady Capulet in Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet in 1985. Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (1964), Officier de la Légion d'honneur (1974), Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur (1988). Author of Je suis ballerine (Paris, 1960).

Subjects: Dance.

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