Marga

Ballerinas/danseurs who met tragic ends in real life

93 posts in this topic

According to this public health information site, measles is caused by a virus and neither antibiotics nor anti-viral treatments cure it.

http://www.idph.stat...b/hbmeasles.htm

I do remember, as a child in the 1950s, that parents were delighted when we caught the measles, as that was the only way to prevent getting it as an adult, which can be much more serious. A vaccine did not become available until 1957. (We had the same situation with the mumps and chicken pox: better to catch it as a child and develop immunity.) I have no idea when the vaccine became available in the Soviet Union, but wouldn't be surprised if it was much later than in the West.

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Thanks, FauxPas, for drawing our attention to this exquisite dancer. I would think that in 1967 (I was 20 years old then and it was certainly not the dark ages) she could have been spared death from measles. Russia was known for its focus on good medical care. My goodness, how tragic! Such prodigious talent! Who knows where it would've taken her?

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You know, Marga, for all we know, she could have received a vaccine and been allergic to it, also - awful.

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You know, Marga, for all we know, she could have received a vaccine and been allergic to it, also - awful.

Since the topic has been raised, I note that given the dreadful toll that of hospitalization, disability, and death commanded by diseases such as the measles in the past, we should be most grateful for vaccines and the benefits they provide for all - not least those who go unvaccinated as "free riders," relying on the fact that others will get vaccinations and so spare them from the chance of falling ill. In California we recently had a measles outbreak attributed in part to the declining vaccination rate. Fortunately most parents are still getting their children vaccinated.

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You know, Marga, for all we know, she could have received a vaccine and been allergic to it, also - awful.
Since the topic has been raised, I note that given the dreadful toll that of hospitalization, disability, and death commanded by diseases such as the measles in the past, we should be most grateful for vaccines and the benefits they provide for all - not least those who go unvaccinated as "free riders," relying on the fact that others will get vaccinations and so spare them from the chance of falling ill. In California we recently had a measles outbreak attributed in part to the declining vaccination rate. Fortunately most parents are still getting their children vaccinated.
There is an amazingly high porcentage of the population still resistant to the vaccination process. Even for the simple adult pneumococcal one I'd say I would get probably one agreenment to get it out of 100 offerings to new admissions on the floor during high risk season.

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I guess I'm a free rider then, as I stopped vaccinations on my oldest children when they were little and refused to have the remaining children vaccinated (for reasons that are very sound to me - and very researched). I used to publish a magazine called Nurturing that was a proponent of homebirth, breastfeeding, and natural, gentle mothering. I ran articles against vaccinations. (Feel free to hate on me now.)

Since we're wondering, I take Mme. Hermine's supposition seriously.

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Measles in an adult can be pretty damaging. Few people recall that in the 1620s and 30s, the Native American population was devastated by a measles epidemic that swept the Americas. Smallpox, nothing. It was measles that took the heavy toll on the Indians.

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I am so pleased that someone mentioned Paul Clarke earlier on this thread. I immediately thought of him when I started reading this topic and just couldn't remember his name from the clouds of 45 years ago. He was at the Royal Ballet upper school when I was there and he was every girl students' heart throb. Blonde and beautiful and an amazing dancer. I remember leaning over the balcony in the Sadlers Wells Studio to watch the senior mens class just to ogle him! We knew he would get into the company and he did, I believe almost before he finished his training. The story as well as I can remember it, was that he went to the dentist and had a procedure with a full anaesthetic. He was told to rest in order to recover properly from the anaesthetic, but insisted on performing that evening. He died of a heart attack as a result. Absolutely tragic and sadly unneccessary.

Another former dancer to die tragically was Alan Hooper, one of my pas de deux partners at the RBS. (I was always partnered with him and Wayne Sleep, because I was short enough for them!) After his performing career was over he became the Artistic Director of the RAD - an excellent one too. On a visit to Australia for the RAD, I believe that he fell out of a window from a skyscraper.

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I remember Alan Hooper, but had no idea that was how he died. If I remember correctly Jean-Pierre Alban of Festival Ballet also fell from a window to his death, in Sloane Street I think. Not sure if it was an accident or suicide.

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Just before the summer of 1924, Lidia Ivanova, Alexandra Danilova, Nikolai Efimov, Vera Zorina and George Balanchine (who were very young-marrieds) were slated to do a short tour, starting in Germany, as the Balanchine-formed group "Soviet State Dancers" during the Maryinsky's summer holidays, at the invitation of Vladimir Dmitriev. They were the "cream of the young Maryinsky crop" according to Danilova in Choura.

I believe you meant "Tamara Geva" and not Vera Zorina. Zorina was wife #3, Geva was #1.

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There was a young dancer in the Harkness Ballet who died of a heart attack while she was rehearsing with the company on tour. She had a weak heart and loved dancing so much that (from what I was told) her family let her stay in the company even with all of the danger to her health. Her name was Sarah Thomas. I saw her several times in the studio and in the canteen as I was a trainee at the time in the school. She had a very gentle and sweet look about her. Every time I see Giselle I think about her. So very sad.

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A very moving story, duffster. Thank you for posting it and for giving us a chance to think about this young dancer and the power of her wish to dance.

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Does anyone have information on the cause of death and date for George Skibine, Ballanchine's brother-in-law? He was with Harkness and Dallas.

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Elena Tchernichova, in her 2013 memoir, Dancing on Water: A LIfe in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, discusses Simukova's tragic illness and death from complications due to measles. Simukova was scheduled to dance the grand pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty at a gala organized by Dudinskaya. Rehearsals started in the evening and ran late. Simukova lived far from the city and so had long rides to and from rehearsals. She developed a "bad cold" and was rehearsing while running a high fever. Dudinskaya insisted she continue to rehearse. Simukova checked herself into a hospital within a day or so after the opening performance. It was measles. She developed encephelitis, soon became paralyzed, and died three weeks later. Heartbreaking.

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John Kriza, who died while swimming in Florida--in a "freak accident" some reports say. He was one of my teachers at Indiana University, and we all really liked his gentle humor.

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According to this public health information site, measles is caused by a virus and neither antibiotics nor anti-viral treatments cure it.

http://www.idph.stat...b/hbmeasles.htm

I do remember, as a child in the 1950s, that parents were delighted when we caught the measles, as that was the only way to prevent getting it as an adult, which can be much more serious. A vaccine did not become available until 1957. (We had the same situation with the mumps and chicken pox: better to catch it as a child and develop immunity.) I have no idea when the vaccine became available in the Soviet Union, but wouldn't be surprised if it was much later than in the West.

Actually the first Measles vaccine was introduced in '63. I'm not surprised that people were still dying of it in the later 60s.

This is a good read:

https://roalddahl.com/roald-dahl/timeline/1960s/november-1962

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Recently, I bought a copy of the 1982-83 ABT season program w/ photos of all the dancers. The Baryshnikov generation of male dancers was particularly ill-fated:

Principals: Patrick Bissell (30, drug overdose), Fernando Bujones (50, cancer)

Soloists: Peter Fonseca (28, AIDS), Gregory Osborne (39, AIDS), Ross Stretton (53, cancer)

And this doesn't even include Clark Tippet, who doesn't appear in the 1982-83 book but who was a principal during the Baryshnikov era. He died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 37.

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I've skimmed this thread and can't find mention of who I'm thinking of.

There was a male NYCB dancer who died of AIDS probably in the early 90's. He was considered a rising star at the time. Anyone remember who this was?

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