Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes
by Judith Mackrell
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
476 pages, £25.
LYDIA LOPOKOVA is not a name that comes to mind when one thinks of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this year. Bloomsbury Ballerina, a superb new biography by British dance critic Judith Mackrell, should help remedy this situation.
Lydia Lopokova’s father, a theater usher in St. Petersburg and a bit of a culture vulture, tried to put all five of his children on the stage, and all but one (who became an engineer) had a noteworthy career in ballet. As a twelve-year-old student at the Imperial Theatre School in St. Petersburg, Lydia was presented to Tsar Nicholas II after having danced Clara in the Nutcracker. She appeared to have been born to dance, both physically and emotionally.