Les cahiers retrouvés de Nina Vyroubova
She was the muse of Serge Lifar, of the Marquis de Cuevas Ballet, of Roland Petit. The tiny Russian from Meudon who became an Etoile at the Opéra de Paris noted in schoolgirl exercise books the drawings of the choreographies created for her. Based on these books, Dominique Delouche takes Nina Vyroubova on a journey through her roles.
Throughout the film, images of archives from the Spectre de la danse and Giselle alternate with those of Nina Vyroubova today, transmitting her roles to young dancers. We also follow her to Saint Petersburg, a sentimental journey that takes her from her grandfather’s dacha to the Russian Ballet Academy where she is acclaimed. Her memories punctuate the images with anecdotes, particularly when she evokes her arrival at the Opéra de Paris. Serge Lifar had asked her to replace the “irreplaceable” Yvette Chauviré and, overnight, Nina Vyroubova found herself rocketed into the Paris society of the 1940s. A modern fairy tale that still makes the dancer’s eyes shine.
Source : Patrick Bossatti
Nina Vyroubova was born in 1921 en Crimea (Ukraine), to a Russian father and a Breton mother. Her parents fled the Revolution in 1924 and sought refuge in France. She began to dance soon after arriving in France with renowned teachers: Olga Preobrajenska, Vera Trefilova, Lubov Egorova and Boris Kniassef.
In 1937, she performed her first solo in Coppélia, where she danced the role of Swanilda. The early days of her professional life were difficult and to earn a living she was obliged to dance in cabarets. Her career took a great turning point after the Second World War; first of all she was noticed dancing in the “Soirées de la danse” at the Sarah Bernardt Theatre but, more particularly, when Roland Petit engaged her to work at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées she would experience triumphant acclaim. He cast her in the role of “Sleeping Beauty” in Les Forains, which brought her great success. In this company, she danced Victor Gsovsky’s version of the “La Sylphide” (the Sylph) along with Roland Petit. Serge Lifar engaged her in 1949 at the Opéra de Paris, as Étoile, where she would recreate Yvette Chauviré’s roles. Nina Vyroubova made her debut at the Opera on 12 October 1949 in Tchaikovsky’s Divertissement and, for her second appearance, she danced the highly-difficult “Cigarette” variation in Lifar’s Suite en Blanc.
She left the Opera in 1956 and a year later joined the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas where she created numerous roles. She danced Sleeping Beauty, partnering Rudolf Nureyev in his first appearances in the west. She left the troupe in 1962 and moved into teaching. She established a class at the Salle Pleyel, which was highly successful and which included leading dancers of the time: Claire Sombert, Yannick Stephan (Principal Dancer at the Opera) and Simone Courtheoux. In 1983, following a leasehold matter, she was forced to end her classes.
Nina Vyroubova appeared in a film made by Dominique Delouche “Les carnets oubliés de Nina Vyroubova” (1996).
Nina Vyroubova was one of the most exquisite Étoiles of her time, an artist who could successfully set aside techniques and centre stage expression. Her greatest role was Giselle, which she danced on the greatest stages of the world.
Nina Vyroubova passed away in June 2007.
After Beaux-Arts (Fine Art School) studies and musical classes (piano and classical singing), Dominique Delouche met Federico Fellini and became his assistant ("Nights of Cabiria"). In 1960, he directed his first film « Le Spectre de la Danse ». Until 1985, he produced and directed short films, like « Aurore » et « La dame de Monte Carlo ». In 1968, he staged Danielle Darieux in “Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman", a Stefan Sweig novel 's adaptation selected for the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, and the musical theatre “Divine” (1975). He filmed other features like « Une étoile pour l’exemple » (1988), « L’homme de désir » (1970). He produced and filmed the opera “La voix humaine” (The Human Voice) for French television (text by Cocteau and music by Poulenc; directed by Georges Prêtre), with the soprano Denise Duval. His last film is "Balanchine in Paris" (2011). He also directed, created decors and costumes for the Opéra de Paris and for the Festival of Aix en Provence: “Werther”, “Le Roi malgré lui” (The Reluctant King) (1978), “Didon et Énée” (Dido and Æneas) (1972).
Source: Dominique Delouche's website
Les cahiers retrouvés de Nina Vyroubova
Production / Coproduction of the video work
films du Prieuré, France 2, France supervision / Participation : CNC, ministère des affaires étrangères, ministère de la culture (DMD)