Born in Kiev, Russia in 1905, Lifar went to Paris in 1923 and joined the Ballet Russes as Sergei Diaghilev's newest protege-lover. In 1925, he became lead dancer, to the consternation of previous protege-lovers who were no longer getting the best roles.
That didn't sit well with the other members of the ballet company.
He cavorted with artists, writers, and film stars, many involved in the gay culture of Paris Between the Wars, like Salvador Dali, Paul Valery, Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein, and Paul Robeson.
In 1944, during World War II, Lifar's collaboration with the Nazis got him "banned for life" from the Paris Opera. He claimed that he was working as a secret agent (he returned in 1947).
Lifar was not openly gay, but his many liaisons with men were well known in the ballet world. He also sought out the attention of wealthy women who served as his benefactors.
He died in 1986.
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