The elusive Serge Nadejdine’s brief, brilliant career in films lasted less than two years. Born in Moscow in 1880, until the Revolution he was apparently a director and maître de ballet at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Press reports during his period in France state that he had directed films in Tsarist Russia and in the interim period before nationalization of the cinema: but the very comprehensive records of the Russian cinema of those years provide no evidence to support these claims. After emigration he seems to have lingered in Constantinople to work in theatre and ballet, but eventually arrived in Paris, where he was recruited to Albatros. His first work was as assistant to Volkov on Kean and Les Ombres qui passent (1924). That same year he directed his own first film, Le Chiffonnier de Paris, starring Nicolas Koline, which proved a major success. In his two succeeding films for Albatros he was closely associated with Nicolas Rimsky, who collaborated on the scenario of La Cible (1924) as well as acting alongside Koline. Then came L’Heureuse mort. Some sources also credit Nadejdine as co-director on Rimsky’s Le Nègre blanc. He left Albatros to take over direction of Naples au baiser du feufrom Jacques Robert, for Films Legrand.
In 1928 Nadejdin (now adopting an Anglo-Saxon transliteration of his name) reappears as director of an ambitious but short-lived production, Ballet Moderne, at the Gallo Opera House (today Studio 54) on West 54th St., New York City. In 1932 he was invited to take over the Russian Imperial Ballet School in Cleveland, Ohio, to succeed its founding director, Nikolai Semenov, who had thrown himself over Niagara Falls in protest against the ugliness of modern dance. Under Nadejdin, the school produced some excellent artists, and provided a rehearsal centre for visiting ballet companies. Nadejdin, who took American nationality in 1942, shortly after the U.S. entered World War II, directed the school practically until his death in 1958, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
David Robinson, www.cinetecadelfriuli.org