David Lichine and Tatiana Riabouchinska papers

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Collection Data

David Lichine (1910-1972) was a noted choreographer, teacher, and dancer. Tatiana Riabouchinska (1917-2000) was an internationally celebrated ballet star and teacher. The David Lichine and Tatiana Riabouchinska papers document the professional life of the dance couple. These files contain correspondence, photographs, calling cards, choreographic notes, and scrapbooks.
Lichine, David (Creator)
Riabouchinska, Tatiana (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1920 - 1981
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: (S) *MGZMD 267
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Ballet -- France -- Paris
Ballet -- United States -- 20th century
Dance -- Education
Biographical/historical: David Lichine (1910-1972) was a noted choreographer, teacher, and dancer. He was born in Rostov-on-Don, in Russia. His family left Russia during the revolution and settled in Constantinople. He was later sent to Paris for his education, studying dance in Paris with Lubov Egorova and Bronislava Nijinska. He made his debut with Ida Rubinstein's Company in 1928 and with Anna Pavlova's company in 1930. Lichine danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1932 to 1945, where he met and began dancing with Tatiana Riabouchinska. While with Ballet Russe, he created roles in George Balanchine's Cotillion and Le Bourgeois, and Massine's Jeux d'Enfants, Le Beau Danube and Beach (all in 1932) among many others. Lichine began work as a choreographer in 1933. His many ballets included Francesca de Rimini in 1937, Prodigal Son in 1938 and Graduation Ball in 1940. Lichine and his dance partner Tatiana Riabouchinska joined Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theater) in 1941. When Mikhail Fokine died in 1942, Lichine finished his ballet Helen of Troy. In 1943 Lichine and Riabouchinska married, and continued working together. They had one child, Tania. In 1952 the couple moved to Los Angeles, opening a ballet school in Beverly Hills, where they taught for many years. Lichne continued teaching and traveling throughout the United States and Europe, choreographing new ballets and restaging his previous ballets for Netherlands Dance Theatre, Festival Ballet in London, Royal Danish Ballet, and Theatre Colon in Buenos Aires. In 1957 he choreographed a new Nutcracker for the Festival ballet in London. In 1968 he founded the Ballet Society of Los Angeles in an effort to bring a professional, permanent company to the area. He died in Los Angeles in 1972. Tatiana Riabouchinska (1917-2000) was an internationally celebrated ballet star and teacher. Born in Russia, her parents fled the revolution for Paris when she was 2 years old. In Paris, she trained under Mathilde Kschessinska, and by age 15 she had attracted the attention of George Balanchine, who recruited her for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Together with Irina Baronova and Tamara Toumanova she was the third of De Basil's "baby ballerinas" in the 1930s. During her childhood and well into her young adult years her career was managed by her father, Mikhail Riabouchinsky. Riabouchinska was popular not only with audiences but with choreographers – who created roles specifically for her talents. These included Balanchine's La Concurence and Cotillon in 1932, Massine's Jeux d'Enfants, and Fokine's Cendrillon. Riabouchinska traveled the world as a guest artist for the Australian Ballet, the Ballets des Champs-Elysees and the London Festival Ballet. She was the model for Hyacinth Hippo, the hippopotamus in the Dance of the Hours segment of Disney's Fantasia for which Lichine provided the model for the Alligator. They also danced together on-screen in the "Two Silhouettes" segment of Disney's Make Mine Music in 1946. Riabouchinska gradually retired from dance after opening the ballet school in Beverly Hills with her husband. She maintained the school until 1998, and she continued teaching ballet at Academy 331 in West Hollywood until her death in 2000.
Content: The David Lichine and Tatiana Riabouchinska papers document their lives as professional dancers and teachers. The papers consist of correspondence, contracts, art, photographs, choreographic notes, calling cards, programs, ballet materials, and identification papers. There are also scrapbooks, documenting Riabouchinska and Lichine as separate artists and their work together.
Physical Description
Extent: 20.3 linear feet (15 boxes, 13 volumes)
Type of Resource
Still image
Other local Identifier: (S) *MGZMD 267
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19081568
MSS Unit ID: 18514
Archives collections id: archives_collections_18514
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bc0e6c60-54c4-0137-ecd7-6f4ec4464fcf
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