I received today an e-mail from the daughter of Elaine Fifield disclosing the sad news that Elaine had died. The correspondance arose because last summer she contacted me through the link on the Nadia Nerina "Legends" page, asking if I was able to trace her old friend. Now, I feel very happy that I was, indeed, able to trace Nadia, with the help of Dame Beryl Grey.
I have been through my books to see what I can find about Elaine. She danced all the major classical roles, and had several roles created for her. The first reference I can find is the role of Ashton's "Madame Chrysanthème". "With Elaine Fifield, imported from the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, as the heroine, it was a work of considerable charm". In 1953 she created the role of the Bride in Alfred Rodrigues "Blood Wedding".
Maybe she is best remembered for her creation of the recently revived "Birthday Offering" - a ballet for seven ballerinas in which she danced with Margot Fonteyn, Beryl Grey, Nadia Nerina, Violetta Elvin and Rowena Jackson. Her debut as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty was on 20 February 1956 and her performance in Ashton's "Les Rendez-vous" on Boxing Day 1957 "gave an opportunity for the Australian-born Elaine Fifield to display her technical prowess". In John Cranko's "Pineapple Poll" the opening dancers included Fifield as the saucy little Poll.
She performed Odette with "striking success" and as Swanhilda: "Fifield's sparkle was universally acclaimed".
For the record, I copy below her daughter's letter in it entirety:
I am writing with very sad news. My mother passed away at her home at 2.52pm on the afternoon of Tuesday the 11th of May. She had been ill
for sometime but we did not realise just how ill she really was. She had been very brave and fiercely independent. We remember her with
admiration of a remarkable life and with much love, for the woman behind the public persona. For all her accomplishments she was a very
In 1996 she was diagnosed with throat cancer and was succesfully treated, but soon after she developed a respiratory disease.
At the end of a disciplined life, she finally succumbed on Tuesday 11th of May 1999 at 2.52 pm with respiratory failure, passing away in her
home before the ambulance arrived. My mother is survived by her brother Ray, her daughters Margaret, Louise, and Joydie, and her ten grand
She was dearly loved and we are all numb from the loss of her. The world is a different place for us without her.
Louise Kirk (nee Farley)