On Lydia Lopokova

Susan Daitch at berfrois:

Russian impresario, Sergei Diaghilev, trained his spyglass on modernism, plotless ballets of pure motion with cubist sets and minimal costumes, but he also knew box office when he saw it, and because his Ballets Russes was a touring company that never performed in the country for which it was named, he also presented fantastic ballets that audiences loved, happy to be cast under the spell of Scheherazade, the Firebird, Giselle. Diaghilev, always ready to go overboard, staged a version of The Sleeping Princess with huge trompe l’oeil sets and over three hundred costumes. Courtiers and princes wore jewelled plumed turbans, ladies of the court were dressed in ornate gowns with trains and capes and gold-buckled shoes. The evil Carabosse had bony arms that ended in claws, a long haphazardly leopard-spotted cloak, conical hat, and in silhouette, she looked like a rat. Critics called the productions a gorgeous calamity. In London, in 1921, it wasn’t Aurora, Keynes fell in love with, but the Lilac Fairy, the creature who put the kingdom to sleep, so as to delay the effects of the jilted fairy’s curse. The Lilac Fairy was danced by Lydia Lopokova, and when attendance fell off, he made sure to sit in empty box where she would notice him.

more here.