Nicholas (Kola) Efimov

Nicholas Efimov, a classmate of George Balanchine, was also trained at the Theatre School in St. Petersburg, and also graduated into the Maryinsky Ballet. In 1924 Efimov and Balanchine, together with Alexandra Danilova and Tamara Geva. joined the Soviet State Dancers, a small company formed by Vladimir Dimitriev who received permission to leave Russian for a tour in Germany.

While on tour the Soviet State Dancers defected and eventually were hired by Sergei Diaghilev. Efimov remained with the company and partnered most of its great ballerinas. After Diaghilev's death, the Ballets Russes disbanded and Efimov became the premier danseur of the Paris Opera Ballet and later its principal mime. He was the only one of the four defectors from Russia who didn't settle in the United States. Efimov married Vera Nemtchinova's sister Leda. Not much more is known about him; even the Library of the Performing Arts cannot locate the dates of Efimov's birth or death.

In doing research I find there is "selective history." Many historians tell you what they want you to know. For example, Nicholas Efimov was mentioned in books by Tamara Geva, Alexandra Danilova, Lydia Sokolova and Richard Buckle. Yet only one encyclopedia gives him four lines. It is not that they are changing history by lying but by omission. Jack Anderson, in his obituary for Lincoln Kirstein, said that Kirstein and Balanchine founded the School of American Ballet. In Lincoln Kirstein's book, Dance a Short History of Classic Theatrical Dancing the author said, "Just as Balanchine left Russia in 1924 with his friend Vladimir Dimitriev, so together they left Europe in 1933 for America. They had been invited by Edward M.M. Warburg and this writer to found the School of American Ballet. ----" I called this to the attention of Mr. Anderson, but he didn't acknowledge my letter.

(First published September 1996)

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