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Subject: "Dancers from the 70s and 80s" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #917
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Ann Williams

04-09-00, 06:04 PM (GMT)
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"Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
 
  
This message is prompted by a recent thread on Ballet Alert

Although I'm practically old enough to have seen Pavlova dance, I didn't get interested in ballet until about ten years ago and therefore never saw Lynn Seymour, Antoinette Sibley, Merle Park or Marguerite Porter (let alone Fonteyn).

Does anyone on this board have any recollections of these four dancers? If so, I would love to hear them. Seymour,Sibley and Porter have all written books, but as far as I know Merle Park never has and there is nothing of her on video so I am particularly curious about her.

I look forward to your recollections.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz 04-09-00 1
     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s patricia 04-09-00 2
         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Helen 04-09-00 3
         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz 04-09-00 4
             RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz - again 04-09-00 5
                 RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s patricia 05-09-00 6
                     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s patricia 05-09-00 7
                         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Helen 05-09-00 8
  RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Robert 05-09-00 9
  RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Anneliese 05-09-00 10
     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Ann Williams 05-09-00 11
         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz 05-09-00 12
             RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Helen 06-09-00 13
                 RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Fuzzyface 06-09-00 14
                     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz 06-09-00 15
                         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Ann Williams 06-09-00 16
                             RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Fuzzyface 07-09-00 17
                     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Anneliese 08-09-00 20
  RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Richard J 07-09-00 18
     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Caz 08-09-00 19
         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Ann Williams 08-09-00 21
             RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Richard J 10-09-00 22
                 RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Helen 12-09-00 23
                     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s timpow 12-09-00 24
                     RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Ann Williams 13-09-00 25
                         RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s Richard J 15-09-00 26

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Caz

04-09-00, 06:17 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #0
 
   Merle Park can be seen on the video "An Evening with the Royal Ballet" dancing the Bluebird variation in Act III of the Sleeping Beauty.

Marguerite Porter was one of my favourite dancers as a kid - almost, but not quite, as favourite as Margaret Barbieri.


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patricia

04-09-00, 06:28 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #1
 
   caz, isn't that antoinette sibley as the enchanted princess in the royal video?


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Helen

04-09-00, 08:01 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #2
 
   It's definitely Antoinette Sibley on mine!


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Caz

04-09-00, 11:42 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #2
 
   As what enchanted princess?


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Caz - again

04-09-00, 11:53 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #4
 
   Oh, you mean the Bluebird? Then Park must be something else, one of Florestan's sisters maybe. She's in there somewhere anyway.

How's that for a bonus - three of the dancers on your list in one extract!


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patricia

05-09-00, 09:51 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #5
 
   hi again caz!

i think merle park may be one of the girls in the pas de trois, i know one of them is georgina parkinson, and she is probably the other. they are hard to recognize also as at least in georgina's case, there is no real facial closeup in the film.

it's only the boy who is supposed to be a bird, the girl is just supposed to be a princess who is enchanted by him or something, n'est-ce pas?


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patricia

05-09-00, 09:53 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #6
 
   also marguerite porter was the lilac fairy in a broadcast of sleeping beauty in which merle park danced aurora in about 1978. and monica mason was an absolutely wonderful/horrid (in a positive sense) carabosse!


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Helen

05-09-00, 10:29 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #7
 
   Merle Park dances the second variation as one of Florestan's sisters in that video.

I didn't see much of Marguerite Porter - she was younger than the other three, I think, and by the time she came to general notice I had moved away from London and wasn't able to go to the ballet so often. I have very happy memories of Park, Sibley and Seymour, who were all major stars, any one of whom could have headed a company with distinction. Fortunately for those of us who were there, but unfortunately for everyone else, they all came at once. Sibley was a pure, perfect classicist, with a slightly quirky personality which made her very special and unusual - just like Dowell, which is why they went so well together. She was very musical, but possibly the musicality prize goes to Merle Park (whose name, we always felt, sounded like a tube station). Park was typically a darting, quick, light ultra-musical dancer - she was a wonderful Autumn Fairy in Ashton's Cinderella. Seymour was less precise than these two, but had a dark, smouldering, passionate, dramatic beauty. She had very soft movement and tremendous acting ability. All three knew how to use their entire bodies - they were not just legs and feet! And all three were adored by audiences.

Ann - this is somewhat off-topic, but I am interested in why and how you came to be a ballet fan late-ish in life, though you are probably not as old as you imply! For me, ballet was always there, and I am always curious about how people find it if they are not handed it on a plate, as I was.


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Robert

05-09-00, 03:42 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #0
 
   My memories of Lynn Seymour are not the usual ones. I was art teacher to her twin boys and remember her as a rather dramatic and impressive looking parent. Unfortunately I was not going to ballet much at that time. My memories of dancers and dance are of the 50s and early 60s. Such interesting ballets I would love to see some of them again. Perhaps you should ask for informationn on those years too.


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Anneliese

05-09-00, 08:24 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #0
 
   Merle Park can be seen in a party piece with Wayne Eagling - a bit of froth to "Voices of Spring" - in the ROH video of "Fledermaus". Whether you prefer that to Charles Aznavour or Hinge and Bracket singing the donkey duet is a matter of personal taste... I believe she trained at Elmhurst school, Camberley, with my last ballet teacher!


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Ann Williams

05-09-00, 09:06 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #10
 
   Helen, Caz, Patricia, Robert, Annelise

Thanks for all this information, especially Helen - your comments about Park were fascinating as I had been unable to find a scrap of information about her anywhere. What you say about Sibley & Seymour bears out everything I've read about them. I feel cheated at missing all three - they seem to have had a kind of glamour which evades even the starriest of today's stars.

As to how I came to ballet so late in life, I saw Bintley's 'Still Life at the Penguin Cafe' on a South Bank Show at the end of the eighties and was intrigued by it. As I was working very near Covent Garden at the time, I just went there one evening on the off-chance and got a ticket without having a clue what was on (as it happened, it was Balanchine's 'Jewels' but that meant absolutely nothing to me then and I don't think it was a significant factor in my 'conversion'). About half-way through the performance I suddenly found myself in tears, thinking literally 'where has this been all my life?' (I was already middle-aged).

I never looked back after that evening. I would go to Covent Garden sometimes three times a week to see different casts in the same ballet, always standing at the back of the Stalls Circle (still my favourite vantage point). Within about two years I had read every available book about ballet and seen every available video. It was exactly like my discovery of Jane Austen; I read and loved 'Sense & Sensibility' and within the space of about a month I had devoured her entire output and was howling 'whaddya mean, she only wrote six?'.

Helen, I would love to hear how you were 'handed (ballet) on a plate'. Please tell us.


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Caz

05-09-00, 11:41 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #11
 
   Ann, didn't Jim write about Merle Park in Bruce's 'Legends' page? Jim is the person to talk to if you want to know about her.


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Helen

06-09-00, 08:42 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #12
 
   Yes, I suddenly thought of the Legends pages.
I think I may start a new thread about how Ballet.co readers discovered ballet, when I have time. Very interesting story, Ann.


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Fuzzyface

06-09-00, 01:48 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #13
 
   I saw some really good performances by Sibley and Seymour during the late 1970's and 1980's. I will always remember Seymour in "Mayerling" in 1978. She was so luscious and depraved, and just threw herself completely into the role. Later, when she came back to do "Onegin" & "Anastasia" with ENB, although she was no longer young, she was fantastic. She had beautiful arched feet, a wonderful back, and she was incredibly musical. I specifically remember the way she turned Tatiana's solo in Act 2 of "Onegin" into a heartbreaking conflict between her emotions and the need to keep her dignity. She literally "crumpled" into pieces during a pirouette at the end of the solo. It was a wonderful moment, and really hard to describe. She is probably the greatest dancer I ever saw. Sadly, I didn't see her in any of the classics, but she had a much stronger technique than people give her credit for.

Sibley was fantastic in a completely different way. Firstly, she was very classical and grand, but also capricious and elfin. I remember one performance where she danced in "Birthday Offering" AND "Enigma Variations". She could not possibly have been more different in each ballet. I don't particularly like "Birthday", but she was so grand and musical, so like a real ballerina that I was thrilled. Then in "Enigma" doing Dorabella, she was just like an excited little girl. The change was just extraordinary. I saw her as "Raymonda", "Manon" and Titania too!

I was less keen on Merle Park, although she was brilliant as Marie Larisch ( a real bitch!), and didn't like Marguerite Porter. Porter got very mannered towards the end of her career, and her performances in things like "Month in the Country" became a bit of an ordeal. I think the problem for her was that she looked similar to Fonteyn, and everyone kept predicting a great future for her which never actually happened. She was good in things like Julia in "Wedding Bouquet", but she was taxed in very classical roles.

We musn't forget Jenny Penny, who was dancing at the same time, and the rising stars like Bryony Brind, Fiona Chadwick, Ravenna Tucker, Deirdre Eyden, and Alessandra Ferri. I remember it as a much more exciting time than today. I think what we really lack at the moment is a "real" ballerina, and I feel priviledged that I saw Seymour & Sibley. Incidentally, there is a video of Sibley & Dowell in "Cinderella" which is marvellous, and a good one of Seymour & Nureyev in "Giselle".


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Caz

06-09-00, 04:35 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #14
 
   I disagree about Marguerite Porter, I thought she was great in everything I saw - but maybe that's 'coz she was so nice to fans ('specially enthusiastic kids like I wot I woz) and always had time for people colouring my memories of her?

But I'm definitely with you on the subject of the Seymour 'Giselle' video - though I believe Eugene gave it a poor review for ballet.co. I thought Seymour danced it beautifully, but all these things are largely a matter of personal opinion anyway...


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Ann Williams

06-09-00, 08:15 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #15
 
  

Fuzzyface

What a wonderful posting. Thank you. I love these recollections -please keep them coming, everyone!

You mention Bryony Brind, and I'm curous about her too. Did she give up dancing or did it give her up? She seems to have been quite young when she disappeared.

Caz, actually I've got that Giselle video with Seymour, but I never watched it all the way through because it was so obviously shot in a studio and I hate that. I am now going to dig it out and have another look at it.


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Fuzzyface

07-09-00, 02:12 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #16
 
   Ann,

Bryony is quite a sad story really. She started out as flavour of the month in the early 1980's, and was given lead roles quite early on. In fact, I think she was given Odette-Odile whilst still in the corps, and Nureyev picked her to do Bayadere with him. I liked her very much, especially as Aurora (she was miscast as the Lilac Fairy). But then she fell out of favour (mainly due to her participation in a disastrous staging of "Ballet Imperial" & a turbulent private life), and was given fewer and fewer roles by Dowell. She seemed to disappear completely at one stage, and then left the Royal Ballet in the early 1990's. She continued to dance for a few years, tried acting, and ran one of the ballet schools for a while (Arts Ed I think). It's quite sad, and another of those cases where talented dancers were just dumped by the Covent Garden company. The press in the 1980's were full of praise for people like her and Fiona Chadwick (who I loved the most - she was a REALLY good dancer), and they received lots of media attention. I suppose they just got overlooked when new younger dancers emerged like Bussell. It's a shame, as the company doesn't really have mature dancers leading the company, and setting examples to the little 'uns. I think there is a legends page on Bryony that you could look at. I've got no idea what she's doing now. Perhaps someone else can tell us?


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Anneliese

08-09-00, 09:47 AM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #14
 
  
> I will always remember
>Seymour in "Mayerling" in 1978.
> She was so luscious
>and depraved, and just threw
>herself completely into the role.
> Later, when she came
>back to do "Onegin" &
>"Anastasia" with ENB, although she
>was no longer young, she
>was fantastic. She had
>beautiful arched feet, a wonderful
>back, and she was incredibly
>musical.

I just had to butt in here - I never liked Seymour's dancing when I was young because of her hideous feet! You're the second person I have read saying she had beautiful feet, but I can't see it at all.


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Richard J

07-09-00, 11:50 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #0
 
   What about the 60s?!!! My first visit to the ROH was in March 1965. I was a student at the Royal College of Music at the time, and happened to read the rave reviews of the (then new) MacMillan Romeo and Juliet. So I went. Why? Apart from the message coming through the reviews, I knew the play well, and of course Prokofiev's music was a bonus for me. There has to be a point of contact with past experience, I think. I too stood behind the stalls circle, and was totally captivated. The leading lovers were Sibley and Dowell. I remember overhearing a typical ballet audience "grande dame" saying to her friend that she thought "young Dowell was doing remarkably well"! Sibley was gorgeous of course - utterly believable, and it wasn't difficult to detect the musicality in her movement. BUT the big memory is of David Blair's Mercutio (the part was made for him); an amazingly vivid character, full of stage personality, whose virile performance completely dispelled any prejudicial preconceptions about male dancers!

I also saw Fonteyn and Nureyev in R and J (and various other couples after that). I distinctly remember her Juliet, pausing before going to tell her troubles to Friar L; then, her mind made up, Fonteyn seemed to skim across the stage at speed, hardly touching the floor - an exit that made the audience gasp audibly.

Fonteyn and Nureyev also appeared in Petit's "Paradise Lost"; that included a dramatic run round the stage by him and a headlong dive through a huge pair of lips at the back of the set...apparently Mick Jagger liked watching that ballet, but I've since met a few ex - RB dancers who were in it and they all seemed to hate it! PVC had just become the fashion thing, and all the women wore little white PVC numbers....very 60's decor, complete with flashing neon lights...enough said, but it shows how experimental things did go on in that era.

Other strong memories are of Nijinska's revivals of "Les Biches" and "Les Noces" for the RB, of Monica Mason's earthy athleticism as the Chosen One in MacMillan's "Rite of Spring", of Jenny Penney oozing instant allure in Jerome Robbins "Afternoon of a faun", etc. (and especially not forgetting Lesley Collier).

Ann, you don't mention any men in your piece! I guess you'll have heard good things about David Wall; I seem to remember that I saw him with Makarova in a bits and pieces Saturday matinee soon after she came to the West. I also saw Rambert's reconstruction of Nijinsky's "L'apres-midi d'un faune" c1970; it might have been danced by Christopher Bruce, but I can't be sure. The two-dimensional choreography (frieze-like)from 1912 contains some intriguing effects.

I think the ballet scene is a bit dull at the present, with ENB more or less permanently stuck in the 19th century, and the RB without an acclaimed resident choreographer (without a soul, you might say). At least BRB tries something else! But it's the contemporary scene which pushes at the boundaries (and makes use of new music) - a change from the balletic equivalent of blockbuster Musicals!


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Caz

08-09-00, 01:46 AM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #18
 
  


>I also saw
>Rambert's reconstruction of Nijinsky's "L'apres-midi
>d'un faune" c1970; it might
>have been danced by Christopher
>Bruce, but I can't be
>sure. The two-dimensional choreography (frieze-like)from
>1912 contains some intriguing effects.

He certainly danced it. I've got a couple of original stills from that production. It's meant to've been quite different from the recent revival by the RB.


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Ann Williams

08-09-00, 10:41 AM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #19
 
  

Richard - Thank you for that absolutely wonderful posting. What a storehouse of treasured memories! I would love to have been awake to ballet in the 60s. Oddly enough, I do remember reading interviews with MacMillan and many rave reviews of R & J at the time, but, even more oddly, they never inspired to go and see it! Likewise, every Sunday Richard Buckle's witty ballet reviews were the first thing I turned to in the 'Observer' and yet I never went to anything he reviewed (this must surely reflect his qualities as a writer).

I'm sorry for forgetting the men. Re. David Wall, all I can say is that I've got him on video as Lescaut in 'Manon' and I have never seen anyone to touch him in that role.

Richard (or anyone else), do you remember seeing Svetlana Beriosova? I've recently seen her on that Bell Telephone Hour video with Nureyev and I loved her.


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Richard J

10-09-00, 02:07 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #21
 
   Ann - Svetlana Beriosova was, I am sure, cast as the bride in Nijinska's "Les Noces". Of course, the choreography for that ballet is completely original, matching the ritual element in Stravinsky's music with highly stylised work. The RB found it took some getting used to (Wayne Sleep refers to this in his autobiography). SB was beautifully poised and elegant in all that she did; no surprise that she was cast as Lady Elgar in "Enigma Variations".

Other dancers from this era that some might remember are: Georgina Parkinson (who was especially known for La Garconne in "Les Biches" - I saw her in that role, and also as Lady Capulet in R & J); and Nadia Nerina (about whom others will remember more than I do).

Re. "Enigma", I have a particularly poignant memory. It was staged for BRB by Michael Somes (who was so closely associated with the Ashton tradition). I happened to see this revival on the day Michael Somes died in 1994; a tribute to him, and in some ways marking the gradual passing of an era.


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Helen

12-09-00, 10:31 AM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #22
 
   Beriosova was a most elegant and beautiful classical dancer, one of the aristocrats of the dance world. She had a lovely Slavic face, not very expressive but very beautiful. I saw her in many things, but particularly remember her partnership with Donald MacLeary - a handsome danseur noble in the Michael Somes tradition, still very much around (coaching) and still very handsome, but with white hair now instead of black. There is a good photo of him on the Legends page. Her Persephone (Ashton) was amazing - she both danced and spoke the Andre Gide words in perfect French. I can't imagine Darcey doing that. I also remember her father, Nicholas Beriosoff, who was ballet master to the Festival Ballet when I was a child, and I am fairly sure he danced the occasional character part like Dr Coppelius.

I agree that David Blair was brilliant as Mercutio in R and J. He was also of course the original and marvellous Colas in Fille; but I always felt he was not a romantic, and I actually saw a performance of Swan Lake, or possibly Giselle, where instead of flinging off his cloak in wild and abandoned manner he took it off carefully and neatly folded it! No wonder Margot went running into the arms of Nureyev - he would never have folded a cloak. Like so many others, Blair was eclipsed by Nureyev. It was so hard on them.

Nobody has mentioned Ann Jenner, though I know there was a discussion about her a while back. (Well, I should know, I started it.) She was one of those dancers, like Dowell, who was noticeable from the moment she arrived in the corps. We used to refer to her as "the only Shade who doesn't wobble" in Bayadere, which shows that some things have improved a bit - fewer stars, but I think fewer wobblers! Ashton picked her as Fonteyn's double in the prologue of Marguerite and Armand. Does anyone remember the performance of Sleeping Beauty - I think only her second Aurora - where she went down with appendicitis in the middle and had to be replaced?


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timpow

12-09-00, 03:16 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #23
 
   We have drifted back in time a bit but the posting from Helen took me back. My first visit to a ballet performance was to see a mixed bill by the SWTB at sadlers Wells. The opening work was
We have drifted back a little from the 70's but the posting from Helen took me back to my first visi to the ballet which was mixed bill by the SWTB. The first work was Act 2 of Swan Lake and the Odile Beriosova and I saw as many of her subsequent performances as possible. It is hard to decribe her qualities and the video with Rudolph does little to display them. She had a lovely private smile and the serenity that is often mentioned. She also had beautiful expressive eyes used to great effect as Swanhilda and as the Black Swan at the momemt she knows that she has secured Seigfried.
I think Helen is a little unkind to David Blair. Granted he was better suited to Colas,Franz and Captain Belaye but I think he was one of the more thoughtful Albrechts of his time and made more sense of the role than most. Folding up his cape I do not remember but do remember his debut in Swan Lake partnering Elvin when we saw full arm lifts which were something we got only from the Russians at that time. In view of Elvin's Soviet background these were most effective he also produced dancing in his variation and coda of a standard which was new to us.
Tim Powell


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Ann Williams

13-09-00, 06:58 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #23
 
   Richard, Helen,Tim - Thank you all for these very enjoyable postings. I never tire of reading about past dancers and performances. Helen - I just burst out laughing at your description of David Blair carefully folding his cloak before abandoning himself to passion! It reminds me of Nureyev as Dr Coppelius, who painstakingly folded his cloak before flinging it carelessly to the ground!

I hope I don't sound greedy, but I'd be grateful for any more memories of past dancers.


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Richard J

15-09-00, 10:38 PM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Dancers from the 70s and 80s"
In response to message #25
 
   Ann - your thirst for nostalgia keeps this thread alive! So here goes with some more chunks of the past.

You may have seen the RB video of R and J with Wayne Eagling and Alessandra Ferri (c1984). WE was always going to give a strong portrayal of Romeo; I saw one of his earliest performances in this role (with Lesley Collier) at a matinee in August 1975 (I still have the programme - so am not trusting to memory about the date of the performance).

A triple bill earlier in the same year included "Scenes de ballet", "Elite Syncopations", and "Daphnis and Chloe". I saw "Elite Sync" again a few years ago; it looks a bit dated in some ways now, but at the height of the ragtime craze (after the inclusion of "The Entertainer" in the film "The Sting") it was a big hit. There was the famous duo of Wayne Sleep and Vergie Derman. She was apparently the tallest girl in the company, and at least a foot taller than him when on point; their number will probably never look the same again! In the first two ballets on this bill, Jenny Penney partnered David Wall; a strong duo. JP and Wayne E both came from Canada; interesting that, at that time, they were two dancers who could excel in the classical rep, but also had a bit more than that (I mentioned JP in Jerome Robbins in a previous posting).

Most of the dancers mentioned in these postings have been from the RB, but of course London Festival Ballet (now ENB) included guest dancers such as Elisabetta Terabust and Peter Schaufuss. There was also Patricia Ruanne, who danced in the first performance of Ronald Hynd's "The Sanguine Fan" (1976). I saw that ballet a couple of times; an elegant comedy of social manners to Elgar's only original ballet score. (The music, which inevitably conjours up beautiful images of the early 20th century, was written in 1917 and first produced as a mimed play to raise money for war charities).


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