SAVED FOR THE NATION
FONTEYN COSTUMES ON SHOW
AT THEATRE MUSEUM FROM 18 MAY, 2001
Five costumes worn by Margot Fonteyn, were acquired by the Theatre Museum at last December's Christie's sale. They were saved for the nation by a public appeal mounted by The Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal (Patrons: Patricia Countess Jellicoe and Sir Peter Wright) and Jennie Bisset, who co-ordinated the fundraising, and the London Archives of the Dance.
The display opens on Fonteyn's birthday 18 May. Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) was the first international ballerina produced by an English ballet company. She developed within the Vic-Wells (now Royal) Ballet in the 1930s, becoming their prima ballerina until 1959, when she embarked upon an even more spectacular international career. Through Frederick Ashton's exploitation of her particular qualities in the ballets he created for her, her style became the quintessential "English" style of The Royal Ballet.
Blessed with true proportion, both physical and mental, her performances gave a sense of extraordinary humanity and completeness. Her greatness lay in the lyrical harmony of her movements, exceptional musicality and the ability to transmit emotion and character through dance. She inspired a generation of English dancers and, in her guest appearances, her artistry, elegance and public image raised the standing of ballet throughout the world.
A selection of the following costumes will be on display,
evocative of key stages in the history of post war British dance:
Princess Aurora from the 1946 Sadler's Wells (now Royal) Ballet production of "The Sleeping Beauty", choreographed by Marius Petipa, and Frederick Ashton, designed by Oliver Messel, was purchased with assistance from the London Archives of the Dance. The ballet, and Fonteyn's performance, became associated with some of the most significant events in the company's history - the reopening of the Royal Opera House in 1946, with the famous Oliver Messel designs; their legendary New York debut in 1949; and their first appearances in Russia in 1961, which took the ballet back to its birthplace. This tutu probably dates from the 1960s, when Fonteyn gave her final performances in the Oliver Messel-designed production.
Odile from the 1964 Staatsoper, Vienna production of "Swan Lake", choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis was purchased with the assistance of www.sherringtons.co.uk and the Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal. Fonteyn first danced the complete "Swan Lake" in 1937 and the dual role of Odette-Odile was to become one of her greatest interpretations. She danced in many different productions both with The Royal Ballet and with companies throughout the world, including Vienna during her "Indian Summer" partnership with Rudolf Nureyev, when they were accorded an unprecedented 49 curtain calls.
Chloe from the 1951 Sadler's Wells (now Royal) Ballet production of "Daphnis & Chloe", designed by John Craxton, was purchased with assistance from the Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal. The costume represents one of the most important creative partnerships in the history of ballet - between Frederick Ashton and Margot Fonteyn.
Juliet from the 1965 Royal Ballet production of "Romeo & Juliet" choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis was donated by Mr & Mrs Christopher Gridley and the Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal. The 46-year-old Fonteyn was acclaimed as Juliet, which remained one of her most memorable interpretations.
The fifth costume, not on display is from a 1960's "Les Sylphides" choreographed by Michael Fokine and purchased with the assistance of www.sherringtons.co.uk and the Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal.
Also included in the display will be photographs of Margot Fonteyn as Princess Aurora in "The Sleeping Beauty", and as Chloe with Christopher Gable as Daphnis in Ashton's ballet "Daphnis & Chloe", both from the Museum collection by Houston Rogers.
Press Information: Caroline Wright/Sue Rolfe 0207 943 4743 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org