►Who was Hilda Munnings?

Monthly Meeting – April 2018

Our speaker in April was Graham Bennett, a member of the Crouch End and District U3A who took us back to a time when an exciting and groundbreaking Dance Company came out of Russia, created and led by the impresario Serge Diaghilev. This was the Ballet Russes, which for 20 years brought together some of the greatest artists, composers and choreographers of the time to collaborate on the creation of dances that shocked, entertained and enthralled audiences and which had a very special relationship with London. The talk described the careers of two of Diaghilev’s leading dancers, Lydia Lopokova from St Petersburg and Hilda Munnings from Wanstead, whose name would be changed to Lydia Sokolova. Lydia Lopokova was to marry the leading Economist, John Maynard Keynes. Graham pointed out many places around London that had close association with the Ballet Russes, including the studio in Floral Street where Pablo Picasso painted a frontcloth for the ballet Le Tricorne, The Three Cornered Hat, and the many venues where the company performed, including the Coliseum, Royal Opera House and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The talk was illustrated with images of the imaginative sets and costumes that the company created, many of which have survived to this day, and, most importantly, looked at the legacy that Diaghilev left behind which created the dance scene we enjoy today. The founders of some of our major dance companies were all members of Ballet Russes at various times, Marie Rambert, Ninette de Valois, Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin.

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