Massine, Léonide, 1896-1979

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Leonide Feodorovitch Miassin (Massine) was born in Moscow in 1896. His mother, Eugenia, was a soprano in the Bolshoi Theatre chorus, and his father, Feodor, played French horn in the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra. Massine's parents had a daughter, Raissa, and three other sons. Although all of his brothers were engineers, Massine entered the Imperial Theatre School at age 8, studying both drama and ballet. Massine intended a career as an actor, and, in fact, was later noted for his dramatic interpretation of ballet roles. Diaghilev saw Massine in a small part at the Imperial Theatre and invited him to join the Ballets Russes company in 1913. In his autobiography, Massine called Diaghilev “an outstanding influence on my artistic career,” and credited him with nurturing Massine's view of ballet as “a fusion of music, dance, painting, poetry, and drama.” This view of ballet as a collaborative effort of the best composers and artists as well as dancers and choreographers is reflected in much of Massine's work.

After joining the Diaghilev company, Massine studied ballet with Cecchetti in Europe, and danced his first leading role in The Legend of Joseph in 1914 or 1915. The first Massine ballet, Soleil de Nuit (Midnight Sun), had its premiere a year later. The Ballets Russes tour of 1916 was Massine's first trip to the United States.

By 1920, Massine had created several important ballets, including Parade, Boutique Fantasque, Tricorne (The Three-Cornered Hat), Pulcinella, and Le Chant du Rossignol (Song of the Nightingale). In 1921, Massine married Vera Savina, another dancer with the Ballets Russes, and they left the company. Massine then formed a small company to perform in Buenos Aires, in which he and his wife appeared, and for which he staged many ballets. The Massines took an expanded version of this company on a tour of South America, at the end of which they returned to London, forming another small company and opening a ballet school. The same year, Massine purchased three islands, the Isole dei Galli, near Positano, Italy.

Massine was divorced from Savina in 1924. He rejoined Diaghilev's company as a choreographer, subsequently producing Zephire et Flore, Les Matelots, Le Pas D'Acier, and other ballets. He also choreographed ballets for Les Soirees de Paris, as well as numerous pieces for theatrical revues.

In 1928, Massine married Eugenia Delarova, a dancer he had met in Paris the previous year. Shortly after, they came to the United States, where Massine accepted a two-year engagement producing ballets for weekly shows at the Roxy Theatre in New York.

During the 1930s, Massine worked for several companies, and served as Artistic Director of the de Basil/Blum Ballets-[UNK] de Monte Carlo until 1936. Massine's first symphonic ballet, Les Presages, and his second, Choreartium, premiered in 1933. Massine later joined Serge Denham's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which opened with the premiere of Massine's Gaite Parisienne in 1938. While touring the U.S., Massine and Delarova were divorced and Massine married his third wife, Tatiana Milishnikova (Orlova), a dancer with the company. Their daughter, Tatiana, was born in 1941.

Massine was dismissed from his position with Denham's Ballet Russe by the directors of Universal Art (sponsors of the company) in late 1941. Ensuing litigation won him property rights for most of his ballets.

Soon after leaving Ballet Russe, Massine was hired as a choreographer by the newly-formed Ballet Theatre company, for whom he produced Aleko and Mam'zelle Angot. He purchased a house in Long Beach, on Long Island, in 1942, and became a U.S. citizen in 1944. Massine's son Leonide (Lorca) was born that year.

Massine formed two small companies in the United States, Ballet Russe (Suites), which toured the U.S. in 1944-45, and Ballet Russe Highlights, which toured the country in 1945-46. He then returned to London, appearing in a play, A Bullet in the Ballet, and staging ballets for the Sadlers Wells Ballet. During the late 1940s and the 1950s, Massine spent most of his time in Europe, staging revivals of his earlier ballets and choreographing new ones, including Donald of Burthens (London, 1951), Laudes Evangelii (Perugia, 1952), Resurrezione e Vita (Venice, 1954), Usher (Buenos Aires, 1955), and Mario e il Mago (Milan, 1956). He also choreographed ballets for films, notably The Red Shoes (1948) and Tales of Hoffman (1951), in which he also appeared, and Honeymoon (1958).

In 1960, Massine served as Artistic Director to the Fifth International Festival of Ballet in Genoa, and, in 1961, he returned to the Soviet Union to film some of his ballets. He was also Artistic Advisor for a regional American company, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and taught at Point Park College in Pittsburgh during the 1970s.

During the latter part of his life, Massine became involved in developing and teaching his own methods of choreographic composition and notation. Massine's autobiography, My Life in Ballet, was published in 1968, and his second book, Massine on Choreography: Theory and Exercises in Composition, came out in 1976. Massine died in Cologne, West Germany, on March 16, 1979, at the age of 83.

From the guide to the Leonide Massine papers, 1932-1968, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Nahat, Dennis,. Interview with Dennis Nahat. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Deakin, Natasha,. Interview with Natasha Deakin. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo records, 1935-1968 (inclusive), 1937-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Letter, 1930 Apr. 21, New York, to Claire Reis, New York. [1] p. on 1 l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Satcharoff, Mikhail. Writings. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Grigorʹev, S. L. (Sergeĭ Leonidovich), 1883-1968. Serge Grigoriev/Ballets Russes archive, 1909-2009 (bulk 1909-1952). Library of Congress
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Correspondence and contracts, 1933-1969. ca. 1200 items. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Zorina, Vera,. Interview with Vera Zorina. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Asquith, Margot, 1864-1945. Letter, [1919, October ?], London to Serge Diaghilev [London. 4] p. on 1 fold. l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Page, Ruth,. Interview with Ruth Page. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Hightower, Rosella,. Interview with Rosella Hightower. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild collection on, Ballets Russes, of Serge Diaghilev: Photographs and scrapbooks, 1909-1975. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Delarova, Eugenia,. Interview conducted by Oliver Daniel, Apr. 17, 1978 [sound recording]. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Correspondence, 1978. 1 item. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn S. L. (Sergei Leonidovich) Grigoriev papers, 1889-1972. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Idzikowski, Stanislas,. Interview with Stanislas Idzikowski. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Skibine, George, 1920-1981,. Interview with George Skibine. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Thomas, William,. Scrapbooks: Clippings and photographs. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo records, 1935-1968 (inclusive), 1937-1940 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Papers. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Lifar, Serge, 1905-1986. Un illustre choréateur: Léonide Massine - mon maître. 1979. 8 l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Caryl Brahms Collection, 1940s-1960s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance: Laban Archive
referencedIn Ballets Russes collection, 1911-1962. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Miró, Joan, 1893-. Letter, 1933 May 3, Barcelona, Spain, to Serge Grigorieff. [1] p. on 1 l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Elizabeth Fuller Chapman papers and films, 1932-1976 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Serge Grigoriev/Ballets Russes Archive, 1909-2009, (bulk 1909-1952) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-. Interview with Leonide Massine. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Youskevitch, Anna Scarpova,. Interview with Anna Youskevitch. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Falla, Manuel de, 1876-1946. Le chapeau tricorne : manuscript, [ca. 1919?] / Manuel Falla. Harvard University, Wadsworth House
referencedIn Bortoluzzi, Paolo,. Interview with Paolo Bortoluzzi. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979,. Interview with Leonide Massine. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Krassovska, Natalie,. Interview with Nathalie Krassovska. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Satie, Erik, 1866-1925. [Parade] 1916-17. 17 leaves. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf MASSINE, LEONIDE. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Records concerning Leonide Massine, 1939-1969 (inclusive), 1942-1954 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Gerard, Paula, 1907-1991. Paula Gerard Renison dance sketches [graphic] Newberry Library
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Correspondence, 1937-1946. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Asquith, Margot, 1864-1945. Letter [1919 July] 23, [London] to Serge Diaghilev [London. 7] p. on 2 fold. l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Rubens, Robert. Robert Rubens Papers, 1952-1990. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Dance Notation Bureau (New York, N.Y.). Notated theatrical dances - Labanotation collection, 1939-1985. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Ter-Arutunian, Rouben, 1920-1992,. Interview with Rouben Ter-Arutunian. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Terekhov, Miguel,. Interview with Miguel Terekhov. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Riabouchinska, Tatiana,. Interview with Tatiana Riabouchinska. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Graham, Martha,. Interview conducted by Oliver Daniel, Apr. 19, 1977 [sound recording]. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Delarova, Eugenia,. Interview with Eugenia Delarova. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Lithurgie : manuscript, [ca. 1915?-1952]. Houghton Library
referencedIn Youskevitch, Igor, 1912-1994,. Interview with Igor Youskevitch. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Dickson, Charles,. Interview with Charles Dickson. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Delarova, Eugenia,. Interview with Eugenia Delarova. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Leonide Massine papers, 1932-1968 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Osato, Sono, 1919-. Interview with Sono Osato. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Falla, Manuel de, 1876-1946. Le chapeau tricorne : manuscript, [ca. 1919?] / Manuel Falla. Harvard University, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Grigorʹev, S. L. (Sergeĭ Leonidovich), 1883-1968. S. L. (Sergeĭ Leonidovich) Grigorʹev papers, 1889-1972. Houghton Library
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Correspondence and contracts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn American Ballet Theatre records, 1936-ca. 1967 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild collection on, Ballets Russes, of Serge Diaghilev: Photographs and scrapbooks, 1909-1975. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Eglevsky, André,. Scrapbook: Clippings and publicity releases. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ekstrom Collection: Diaghilev and Stravinsky Foundation, 1902-1984 V&A Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn Walter Terry papers, 1913-1982 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Dokoudovsky, Vladimir,. Interview with Vladimir Dokoudovsky. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Shearer, Moira, 1926-. Interview with Moira Shearer. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Lazowsky, Yurek,. Interview with Yurek Lazowski. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Doubrovska, Felia, 1896-1981,. Interview with Felia Doubrovska. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Dance scrapbooks, c1951-1978 Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance: Laban Archive
referencedIn Bowman, Patricia,. Interview with Patricia Bowman. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Franklin, Frederic, 1914-. Interview with Frederic Franklin. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ekstrom Collection: Diaghilev and Stravinsky Foundation, 1902-1984 V&A Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn Danilova, Alexandra, 1907-1997,. Interview with Alexandra Danilova. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Migel, Parmenia,. Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation collection, 1912-1989. Houghton Library
referencedIn Rieti, Vittorio, 1898-1994,. Interview with Vittorio Rieti. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Leskova, Tatiana,. Interview with Tatiana Leskova. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Lifar, Serge, 1905-1986. Serge Lifar autograph letter to Leonide Massine, ca. 1960. Library of Congress
creatorOf Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974. Salade : ballet en deux actes / Milhaud : manuscript, 1924. Harvard University, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Tallchief, Marjorie,. Interview with Marjorie Tallchief. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Flament, Albert. L'insalata = The salad : manuscript, [1924?] Harvard University, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard College Library
referencedIn White, Franklin, 1924-. Interview with Franklin White. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild collection on, Ballets Russes, of Serge Diaghilev: Manuscripts and objects, 1908-1969 (inclusive), 1908-1929 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith American Ballet Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Andre Derain person
associatedWith Asquith, Margot, 1864-1945. person
associatedWith Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets russes. corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets Russes (Diaghilev) corporateBody
associatedWith Baronova person
associatedWith Bortoluzzi, Paolo, person
associatedWith Boudin person
associatedWith Bowman, Patricia, person
associatedWith Brahms, Caryl. critic and novelist, real name Doris Caroline Abrahams, 1901-1982 person
associatedWith Chapman, Elizabeth Fuller. person
associatedWith Dance Notation Bureau (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Danilova person
associatedWith Danilova, Alexandra, 1907-1997, person
associatedWith Deakin, Natasha, person
associatedWith Delarova, Eugenia, person
associatedWith Diaghilev, Serge, 1872-1929. person
associatedWith Dickson, Charles, person
associatedWith Dokoudovsky, Vladimir, person
associatedWith Doubrovska, Felia, 1896-1981, person
associatedWith Eglevsky, André, person
correspondedWith Ekstrom, Parmenia Migel., 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Falla, Manuel de, 1876-1946. person
associatedWith Flament, Albert. person
associatedWith Franklin, Frederic, 1914- person
associatedWith Gerard, Paula, 1907-1991. person
associatedWith Glickstein person
associatedWith Goncharova, Natalii︠a︡ Sergeevna, 1881-1962. person
associatedWith Graham, Martha, person
associatedWith Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas person
associatedWith Gregory Peck person
associatedWith Grigorʹev, S. L. (Sergeĭ Leonidovich), 1883-1968. person
associatedWith Grigoriev, S. L. (Sergeĭ Leonidovich), 1883-1968 person
associatedWith Gruen, John, person
associatedWith Henri Matisse person
associatedWith Hightower person
associatedWith Hightower, Rosella, person
associatedWith Howard D. Rothschild, collector. person
associatedWith Hunt, Marilyn, person
associatedWith Idzikowski, Stanislas, person
associatedWith John Witt person
associatedWith Krassovska, Natalie, person
associatedWith Lazowsky, Yurek, person
associatedWith Leonide Massine person
associatedWith Leopold Stokowski person
associatedWith Leskova, Tatiana, person
associatedWith Lifar, Serge, 1905-1986. person
associatedWith Lucia Chase person
associatedWith Manuel de Falla person
associatedWith Marc Chagall person
associatedWith Massine's person
associatedWith Michael Powell person
associatedWith Migel, Parmenia, person
associatedWith Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974. person
associatedWith Miró, Joan, 1893- person
associatedWith Mstislav Doboujinsky person
associatedWith Nahat, Dennis, person
associatedWith Nicholas Nabokov person
associatedWith Ninette de Valois person
associatedWith Orlova, Tatiana. person
associatedWith Osato, Sono, 1919- person
associatedWith Page, Ruth, person
associatedWith Pavel Tchelichev person
associatedWith Reis, Claire R. (Claire Raphael), 1888-1978. person
associatedWith Riabouchinska, Tatiana, person
associatedWith Richard Buckle person
associatedWith Rieti, Vittorio, 1898-1994, person
correspondedWith Rothschild, Howard D. person
associatedWith Rubens, Robert. person
associatedWith Salvador Dali person
associatedWith Satcharoff, Mikhail. person
associatedWith Serge Denham person
associatedWith Shearer, Moira, 1926- person
associatedWith Sidney Cohn person
associatedWith Simone Michelle; Pauline Ryall; Peter Lancelot WIlliams; Dierdre McMahon person
associatedWith Sir Maynard Keynes person
associatedWith Skibine, George, 1920-1981, person
associatedWith Sol Hurok person
associatedWith Stephenson Harwood person
associatedWith Tallchief, Marjorie, person
associatedWith Tatham person
associatedWith Ter-Arutunian, Rouben, 1920-1992, person
associatedWith Terekhov, Miguel, person
associatedWith Terry, Walter person
associatedWith Thomas, William, person
associatedWith Verchinina person
associatedWith White, Franklin, 1924- person
associatedWith Youskevitch, Anna Scarpova, person
associatedWith Youskevitch, Igor, 1912-1994, person
associatedWith Zorina, Vera, person
correspondedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Manuscripts--Collections
Choreography
Occupation
Choreographer
Function

Person

Birth 1896-08-08

Death 1979-03-16

Male

Americans

English,

Russian,

French

Information

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