Born in 1891 in St Petersburg Lydia Lopokova (nicknamed 'Loppie') lived a remarkable - and long - life. Only five feet tall, and not blessed with Pavlova's ethereal beauty, her boundless energy and sheer force of personality nonetheless propelled her to the top of the Ballet Russes. Through a combination of luck, determination - and an ability to pick the right man to help her seize opportunities - Lydia then became a star in Paris, a vaudeville favourite in America, the toast of Europe during the war years, and then most bizarrely of all - the wife of Maynard Keynes. Bizarre for several reasons, the most important being the fact that everyone in Keynes' Bloomsbury circle thought that he was a confirmed homosexual. Lydia's story is an extraordinary one, linking ballet, politics, the bohemians, the Bloomsbury set and the economic policies of the super powers. She was the 'Russian ballerina who flitted so intriguingly through the pages of other peoples' stories'. Above all, she was hugely charismatic, eccentric and irreverent: a bolter, a true bohemian and, most surprising of all, eventually an utterly devoted wife.
Judith Mackrell is a writer and Dance critic for the Guardian. She was the ghostwriter for Darcey Bussell's 'Life in Dance'. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.