Lifar, Serge (1905–1986) By Veroli, Patrizia
A crucial figure in the rehabilitation of ballet at the Paris Opéra, Serge Lifar had a glamorous career as a dancer, choreographer, and intellectual in the 1930s and 1940s. Acclaimed for the harmonious lines of his sculptured body and charismatic stage personality, he was less gifted as a choreographer, favoring a neo-classical style and heroic ballet narratives featuring a protagonist whom he himself usually played. He also achieved considerable fame, especially in France, as a dance historian, theorist, and heir to Serge Diaghilev, in part through the numerous collections that found their way to important institutions and also because of the support of the Russian émigré community. A controversial figure owing to his relationship with German authorities during the occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Lifar was figure much loved by his dancers and idolized by the media. Despite his relentless self-promotion which made him a media star in France, his influence as a choreographer, teacher and ballet theorist has remained largely confined to his home country.