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    Paris Opera Ballet performing 'Suite en Blanc': the company that originally premiered Lifar's ballet in Zurich (Lifar took a lead role.)

    SF Ballet's Tiit Helimets and Sarah Van Patten rehearse 'Suite en Blanc' in the studio (© Erik Tomasson)

    Lifar's work is set to music by Edouard Lalo from the 1882 ballet 'Namouna', in which the names of the dances (Sieste, Serenade, Cigarette) were keyed to a story. In 'Suite en Blanc' they carry no meaning, but Lifar still enjoyed playing on the names, and viewers will see images of wafting smoke in Cigarette if they watch closely.

    'Suite en Blanc' uses one of Lifar's favorite movement motif: a flattened profile with shoulders turned 90 degrees to the hips reminiscent of Egyptian art.

    SF Ballet's Sofiane Sylve and Tiit Helimets in Lifar’s Suite en Blanc at the 2013 Gala (© Erik Tomasson)

    Serge Lifar's original notation for 'Suite en Blanc'

    With its sea of dancers in white, Lifar's 'Suite en Blanc' is an appropriately 'wintry' ballet for this time of year...