Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Prima Ballerina Assoluta

"Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike."

Dame Margot Fonteyn left this world (far too early) twenty years ago today.

Hers was a glittering career - famously she was due to retire in the early 1960s after more than two decades as the top ballerina of her generation under the tutelage of Sir Frederick Ashton and Dame Ninette de Valois, having been most acclaimed for her artistic partnership with Robert Helpmann.

Then, out of the blue, the Russian megastar Rudolph Nureyev defected (read more about him in my blog of three years ago), and that partnership (despite the eighteen-year gap between their ages) kept her at the peak of balletic excellence for almost twenty more years!

Her sad decline (she died of cancer in almost primitive surroundings in Panama, caring for her paraplegic husband) - and his (of AIDS) - has been well-documented, not least in that brilliant BBC biographical drama Margot in 2009.

So let us instead wallow in the brilliance of their partnership in the sublime Swan Lake...

Margot Fonteyn biography on Britannica Online

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