David Lichine


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(orig. David Lichtenstein; b Rostov-on-Don, 25 Oct. 1910; d Los Angeles, 26 Jun. 1972)

Russian-US dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He studied with Egorova and Nijinska in Paris, making his debut there with Rubinstein's company in 1928 then going on to dance with Pavlova's company (1930), Nijinska's company, and Ballet de l'Opéra Russe à Paris (1931–2), and La Scala, Milan (1932). A versatile and engaging demi-caractère dancer, he was appointed principal dancer with Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in 1932, staying with the company until 1941 during its subsequent reincarnations as de Basil's Ballets Russes and Original Ballet Russe, and creating roles in many ballets, including Balanchine's Cotillon and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (both 1932), Massine's Jeux d'enfants (1932), Choreartium and Les Présages (both 1933), and Union Pacific (1934). He began to choreograph his own works for the company in 1933, his many ballets including Francesca da Rimini (mus. Tchaikovsky, 1937), Prodigal Son (mus. Prokofiev, 1938), and his most popular work, Graduation Ball (mus. Strauss, arr. Dorati, 1940). In 1941 he joined Ballet Theatre with his second wife Riabouchinska where he also choreographed one ballet and completed Fokine's Helen of Troy (mus. Offenbach, 1942). He returned for various seasons to the Original Ballet Russe (1946–8) and in 1947 worked at the Teatro Colón as principal dancer and choreographer. In 1948 he was choreographer with Ballets des Champs-Elysées creating La Création which was, unusually for that era, danced in silence. He then settled in Los Angeles, where he choreographed for film and commercial theatre and also worked as a freelance choreographer in Europe creating numerous ballets for London Festival Ballet, La Scala, and Berlin Opera Ballet, among others. After 1959 he concentrated on directing (with his wife) the Los Angeles Ballet Theatre and its school.

Subjects: Dance.

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