A treat on screen

Theatre and Performance
December 23, 2010


I am still getting complains why don’t we include film of Nijinsky dancing in the exhibition. My response is if I’d found such film, unless it was truly ghastly, I’d have included it. However on the film front Henry Miller has an interesting article on the guardian’s film blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2010/dec/22/diaghilev-ballets-ru…

This refers to the proposed film of The Sleeping Princess in 1921-22 which was never realised. What is most interesting is that Henry has identified a further segment of Dancing Grace showing Lydia Lopokova dancing in her Can-can costume from La Boutique Fantasque.


In the BF&TVA’s version from Eve’s Film Review, titled Dancing Grace Novel studies of Madame Lopokova, the famous character, said to date from c.1922 which is included in the exhibition the film opens to show Lopokova ‘on stage’ – well almost certainly a studio with curtains in the foreground to create the illusion. She dances a little enchainment ending with a pas de chat. The title card then says ‘The slow camera adds new motion to Madame’s movements’, and we see two different jumps before cutting to another title card:’A further stage was reached when our special camera took things in hand and “framed up” a few surprise moments of its own-!’. Here within a decorative frame we see Lopokova turning and freezing – with the two images of the ballerina. The film ends abruptly.


The Pathe archive version with an issue date of 06/10/1932, available on, line


opens with the final section continuing to bring the two images together and completing the phrase. This section is introduced in the Pathe version by ‘The Cine-camera brings to the dancer as in a frame, the grace of Slow Motion – the power that adds the gliding ability of suspended motion (and multiple image)’. After the two turning figures come back together, the title card says ‘leaping and whirling in the glare of the light, the dancer is an appropriate subject for the moving art of the silver screen’. We then see Lopokova jeté and freeze in mid air perform a pique turn and freeze. With a further jeté and freeze there is a smaller Lopokova turning in the corner. It was quite clearly filmed in one session. It would be wonderful if the two could be edited together to give us about 3 minutes of film. In respect of the filming the earlier date is more plausible and if one was looking at October 1922 would fit the pattern of dancers working as independent artists being filmed in conjunction with their seasons at the London Coliseum.

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