rg, you photos are always amazing entry points to ballet history.
This one has introduced me, for example, to the "Kniaseff method" of barre au sol. I had heard the term but had no idea about what it referred to. For those who would like to learn, here is a 2008 interview with a former student (and disciple), Jeaqueline Fynnaert:
As an aside, she says that Kniaseff was in "a two-year relationship" with Spessivtseva.
Who was Boris Kniaseff?
J.F. Boris Kniaseff was a mysterious Russian who met Diaghilev in 1925, he subsequently met Cechetti and Spessivtseva, with the latter he conducted a two year relationship. It was Spessivtseva who declared - " he has the passion for the dance" and encouraged him to teach. He began teaching in the mid thirties in Paris, two years later Yvette Chauviré joined his class; it was the establishment of a new teaching method in France. In 1943 Chauviré introduced a 17 year old Zizi Jeanmaire to Kniaseff, which leads to my connection with him.
I sense a story coming, how did you connect with him?
J.F. When vacation break came while I was working with Zizi; I didn’t know what to do. Zizi insisted that I go to Athens and look up her friend Boris (who by this time had fled France for Switzerland, where he developed the barre au sol and subsequently to Greece) at the same time delivering a letter. I went and after searching for a long time found this incredible man. You must remember I was not dancing at this time, but after staying for four weeks I got all the solutions to my defects. It was the discovery of the keys of classical placement; how to manage turnout. I witnessed the change in me – I was longer, more balanced, It was a personal revelation. Magnifique et logique! In retrospect it was the most important moment of my life.
I love the phrase "mysterious Russian." I wonder what the story behind THAT is.