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THM/306 - Lydia Sokolova Archive
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Lydia Sokolova Archive

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306
Dates of Creation 1919-1968
Name of Creator Lydia Sokolova
Language of Material English
Physical Description 30 files

Scope and Content

A mixed collection of documents including programmes for galas and performances, scripts, contracts, correspondence and photographs relating to stage and television performances. There are press clippings, manuscripts of articles, and notes as well as other material from the Sotheby's auctions of Ballets Russes material in the 1960s for which Sokolova arranged the groups. There is also some correspondence with Leon Woizikowsky.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lydia Sokolova (1896-1974) was born in Wanstead, as Hilda Tansley Munnings on 4 March 1896. She trained at the Stedman's Academy in London and with Anna Pavlova, Michael Mordkin and Pavlova’s great character dancer and pedagogue, Aleksander Shireyev. Later she studied with Enrico Cecchetti and Nicolas Legat. After touring in the USA with the All-Star Imperial Russian Ballet (1911-12) she danced in London and Europe with Theodore Kosloff’s Imperial Russian Ballet. In 1913 she joined the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, one of the first English girls to become a full member. She became one of the company's principal character dancer until it disbanded in 1929. Having initially danced with Diaghilev’s company as Munningsova but Diaghilev changed this, giving her the name Lydia Sokolova in 1915. In 1914-1915, before the Ballets Russes reformed, Sokolova danced with Nicholas Kremnev in British music halls, and for a season after the collapse of The Sleeping Princess in 1922 she performed with Léonide Massine and Lydia Lopokova’s groups before returning to Diaghilev.

Sokolova was primarily a character dancer and her roles included a Nymph in Nijinsky's L’Après-midi d’un Faune and creating the Apple woman in Till Eulenspiegel (1916). She worked very closely with Léonide Massine creating roles in Boutique Fantasque (1919), Le Chant du Rossignol (1920) and the Miller's Wife in Le Tricorne (1919) although it was performed by Karsavina at the premiere and the Chosen Maiden in Le Sacré du Printemps (1920). She also worked closely with Bronislava Nijinska dancing the Hostess in Les Biches and creating La Perlouse in Le Train bleu (both 1924), Romeo and Juliet (1926), and in George Balanchine's Le Bal (1929). Ill-heath prevented her continuing to dance regularly and she turned to teaching and coaching in England (including assisting Woizikowski with the staging of L’Apres-midi d’un faune for the Ballet Club in 1931). She danced with Woizikowski's company in London in 1935 and Lydia Kyasht's Ballet de la Jeunesse Anglaise in 1939. She returned to the stage to perform in Massine's revival of The Good-Humoured Ladies for the Royal Ballet in 1962.

Sokolova was married to Nicholas Kremnev (1917), had a long relationship with Léon Woizikovsky throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, and married Ronald Erskine Mahon (mid-1930s) who survived her. Her daughter, Natasha, was born in 1917. Sokolova gave considerable support to Richard Buckle with his 1954 Diaghilev exhibition and in establishing his Friends of the Museum of the Performing Arts . She was invited by Buckle to ‘stage’ dances and groupings by dancers for the major Sotheby's Ballets Russes auctions in 1968 and 1969. She died at Sevenoaks on 5 February 1974.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Lydia Sokolova, as well as 20th century ballet in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.


Ballet masters

Personal Names

Sokolova, Lydia
Woizikovsky, Leon
Sokolova, Natasha
Diaghilev, Serge

Corporate Names

Ballet Russes

Cataloguing Info

Title Lydia Sokolova Archive
Creation Created by intern using the Archives Hub EAD Editor 2013-04-17


Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1
Dates of Creation 1924-1939
Language of Material French Polish
Physical Description 21 items

Scope and Content

This series contains programmes relating to Lydia Sokolova's career. This series includes both performances in Great Britain and Internationally.

UK Programmes and publicity

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1
Dates of Creation 1931-1939
Physical Description 16 items

Scope and Content

This file contains UK programmes and publicity relating to Lydia Sokolova's career.

Theatre Royal Plymouth, Anna Pavlova Company

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/1
Dates of Creation 23 March 1931

King's Theatre Edinburgh, Anna Pavlova Company

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/2
Dates of Creation 20 April 1931
Physical Description 1 item

The Pavilion Bournemouth, Souvenir Programme

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/3
Dates of Creation 24 May 1931

New Theatre, A Short Season of Ballet with Karsavina, Leon Woizikovsky and the Marie Rambert Dancers

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/4
Dates of Creation 24 September 1931-10 October 1931

Grosvenor House, Venetian Ball, includes Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/5
Dates of Creation 06 November 1933

Regal Cinema, Anna Pavlova in 'The Immortal Swan,' flyer

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/6
Dates of Creation 23 January 1934

Grosvenor House, St. Andrew's Eve Ball in aid of Women and Babies Annex of the Royal Free Hospital

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/7
Dates of Creation 29 November 1934

Lyric Theatre, Gala Matinee in aid of King George's Memorial Fund

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/8
Dates of Creation 09 December 1936

Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Crest of the Wave by Ivor Novello, dances arranged by Lydia Sokolova and Antony Tudor

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/9
Dates of Creation 1937

Picadilly Theatre, All-Star Ballet in aid of National Council of Girls' Clubs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/10
Dates of Creation 08 March 1937

Strand Electric Theatre Covent Garden, 'A Recital,' Faculty of Arts with The Light Console Society

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/11
Dates of Creation 31 March 1937

The London Casino, 'Plaisirs de Paris'

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/12
Dates of Creation 04 May 1938

Cambridge Theatre, 'Ballet de la Jeunesse Anglaise, flyer and programme

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/13
Dates of Creation 09 May 1939

Scope and Content

Programme includes details relating to Russki Plasski choreographed by Lydia Sokolova.

Cambridge Theatre, Matinee of Ballet in aid of The Children's Centre

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/14
Dates of Creation 29 November 1939

Scope and Content

Lydia Sokolova presents Pastelle.

His Majesty's Theatre, Nijinsky Matinee for benefit of Vaslav Nijinsky

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/15
Dates of Creation Undated

Royal Albert Hall, Gala Evening of Music and Ballet in aid of the Radium Institute and Mount Vernon Hospital for Cancer Treatment and Research

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/1/16
Dates of Creation Undated

International Programmes and publicity

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2
Dates of Creation 1924-1932
Language of Material Polish French
Physical Description 5 items

Scope and Content

This file contains international programmes and publicity relating to Lydia Sokolova's career.

Programme card

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2/1
Dates of Creation 10 April 1924
Language of Material French

Union De La Noblesse Russe,' Artistes des Ballets Russes de M. Serge de Diaghilev

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2/2
Dates of Creation 13 June 1929
Language of Material French

Fête de Bienfaisance de la Colonie Francaise a Monaco

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2/3
Dates of Creation 20 February 1932
Language of Material French

Société de la Légion D'Honneur, Section de Monaco

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2/4
Dates of Creation 24 February 1932
Language of Material French

Zespol Artystow Teatru “Djagieleff’a Warsaw"

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/1/2/5
Dates of Creation Undated
Language of Material Polish


Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2
Dates of Creation 1912-1938
Language of Material Spanish
Physical Description 143 items

Scope and Content

This series contains photographs relating to Lydia Sokolova's career and personal life.

Claude Harris Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2/1
Dates of Creation ca.1912-1933
Physical Description 13 items

Scope and Content

Photographs taken by Claude Harris relating to Lydia Sokolova's performance career.

Character Dance

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2/1/1
Dates of Creation ca.1912
Physical Description 3 items

Scope and Content

3 Photographs by Claude Harris, showing Sokolova as a young dancer in a character dance.

Medieval Style Costume

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2/1/2
Dates of Creation ca.1933
Physical Description 6 items

Scope and Content

6 Photographs by Claude Harris, in a ‘medieval-style costume’ in an identified production.

Russian Dance

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2/1/3
Dates of Creation ca.1933
Physical Description 4 items

Scope and Content

4 Photographs by Claude Harris, in costume for a Russian dance. Also includes an invoice.

Sokolova’s wedding to Ronald Erskine Mahon.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/306/2/2
Dates of Creation ca.1934
Physical Description 8 items

Scope and Content

8 Photographs of Sokolova’s wedding to Ronald Erskine Mahon (her third husband) Images include couple on the steps of Marylebone Town Hall. This file includes photographs by Portman Press Bureau, Associated Press and Keystone.