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Archive for the ‘Lydia Lopokova’ Category

Bloomsbury BallerinaAlison Light has written a charming and lively review of  Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs. John Maynard Keynes for the London Review of Books.

The biography of the lucky Russian ballerina who swept John Maynard Keynes off his feet and raised the hackles of other Bloomsburies, was written by Judith Mackrell, dance critic for the Guardian.

Lopokova was a protege supported by the tsar at the age of nine and a member of the Ballets Russes when she danced her way to London in 1918 and into Keynes’s heart.

You can read “Lady Talky,” Light’s review, here.

Read more about Mackrell’s biography of Lopokova on Blogging Woolf.

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Bloomsbury BallerinaDid Lydia Lopokova serve as inspiration for the character of the Russian princess Sasha in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando?

That was the question that popped into my mind after reading a review in The Guardian of Judith Mackrell’s book, The Bloomsbury Ballerina, which tells the story of modernist ballerina Lydia Lopokova.

The Russian ballerina took London — and the Bloomsbury circle — by storm for the 11 months of her first tour there, beginning in September 1918.

But according to the Guardian article, her sudden flight from the ballet world to take up with a Russian lover in July of 1919 disappointed the Bloomsbury crowd. By the time she returned in 1921, they were no longer enamored of her.

The review says Woolf only once made “significant fictional use” of Lopokova — as the inspiration for Rezia in Mrs. Dalloway.

However, I see another. I am struck by the similarities between the single-minded ballerina Lydia Lopokova and the exciting Muscovite princess, Sasha of Orlando.

Both moved with great grace and energy — Lopokova on the stage and Sasha on the ice. Both were charismatic. Lopokova mesmerized her audiences, and Sasha enchanted Orlando. Both were unconventional, mysterious, adventurous, and well-traveleled. And both had a dangerous side.

Lopokova and Sasha both ran off to Russia after a brief stay in London. And each of them captured the heart of a quintessential Englishman. For Lopokova, it was John Maynard Keynes’s heart, which resulted in a long-lasting marriage. For Sasha, it was Orlando’s, which resulted in heartbreak for the young lord.

All of this just brushes the surface. Feel free to add some strokes of your own — on either side of the issue.

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