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Ballerinas/danseurs who met tragic ends in real life


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#31 silvy

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Posted 08 July 2003 - 07:39 AM

There is a most tragic story in the history of the Colon Theatre (Buenos Aires - Argentina). I think it was around 1970-1971, when I think seven of the ballet's most important figures (including 2 principals that were known internationally: Norma Fontenla and Jose Neglia) died in an air accident.

They were travelling south, to dance in one of the provinces, when the aircraft plunged into the River Plate. They all died drowned.

After this was that Liliana Belfiore took the place of prima ballerina at the theatre, as this place was left vacant after Fontenla's death.

There is a memorial of them near the theatre now.


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#32 silvy

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 07:27 AM

Here are the names of the dancers who died in the accident I described in my last post (nine dancers):

José Neglia, Norma Fontenla, Margarita Fernández, Carlos Schiaffino, Rubén Estanga, Martha Raspanti, Carlos Santamarina, Sara Bochkovsky and Antonio Zambrana.

It was October 10, 1971

silvy

#33 JaneD

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:41 PM

Michael Batchelor, ex-Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells Royal Ballets had retired and was enjoying the first year of a university degree course (archeology?) when he died of AIDS. A wonderful dancer, and a kind and gentle man.

Jane

#34 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 04:19 AM

Thank you for that, Jane -- I remember him as a dancer; very clean and understated.

And thank you for your story, silvy. That happened before I was interested in dance, and so I have no memory of it. It's horrible -- a personal tragedy, of coruse, for many, but a tragedy for the country's ballet life as well.

#35 Funny Face

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:38 PM

This thread makes me sad. I am looking at a newspaper clipping from 1974, with the headline, "Marriage is a Pas de Deaux." It's about my dearest teacher ever, Jury Gotshalks, during a happier time in his life with his gorgeous model/dancer wife, Judy. Jury was trained in Latvia; after moving to Canada, he had his own ballet school and ballet company in Halifax. He danced with virtually every major ballet company in the U.S. and Canada, and had his own tv show and produced a number of shows for CBC in Toronto and Montreal, where he met his wife-to-be. He taught at the National Ballet School of Canada and the Philadelphia Academy of Dance. He danced at Radio City, where the exaggerated lifts in a theater of that size, as he related to me, led to degenerated discs in years to come. He was handsome and dapper, and he and his wife were an incredible, head-turning couple. They had strong ties to ABT, and so, friends of his from that company would come to perform as guest artists at student concerts at the U. of Wisconsin when I was there. He could be brutal with me in class, but he would bring his closest friends to see me perform, and boast about his talented student to them. Knowing that couple made my life feel special and elevated.

As he got older and tried to cope with the problems of being separated from his wife, and of no longer being the young, vital dancer he once was, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Tragically, not many years later, his wife died while piloting a plane in France. To this day, I miss them both.

#36 grace

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 03:22 PM

erik bruhn?

john cranko?

macmillan's relatively early and dramatic death might belong in this thread category...

choo san goh's loss is a massive one to contemporary (i.e. today's) ballet, in my view.

beriosova's demise, after years of visible alcoholism in london, was sad.

elaine fifield, the original RB pineapple poll, died here in perth (western australia), a few years back. she resolutely avoided anything to do with ballet for the last 'half' (loosely speaking) of her life.

#37 floss

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:53 PM

Thanks for mentioning Elaine Fifield, Grace. I knew there was an Australian ballerina who died recently but for the life of me I could not remember her name. I even dusted off old Dance Australia mags but couldn't find the one that mentioned her. We could also add Russell Page, a wonderful dancer and choreographer who took his own life last year.

#38 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:37 AM

I keep reading this thread with hopes of reading of Mlle. Mousseline de Soie, the great Empire ballerina, who died of a broken skull when she slipped and cracked her head on the steel bustle of Lady Buff-Orpington in a receiving line after a performance. Death is always a wrench, but are there any dancers whose careers were cut short or lives cut short for truly dumb reasons?

#39 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:41 AM

One of the saddest ends for a ballerina would have to be amputation, and Adele Granzow who, if fate hadn't intervened, would have been the first Swanilda, died after losing one (or both) her legs--in Berlin, if I'm not mistaken.

#40 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 05:00 AM

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of Jean-Baptiste Lully, who in addition to being a distinguished composer was also a gifted dancer/choreographer who worked closely with Moličre on comedy-ballets. He was conducting a performance of a Te Deum when he speared his foot with the point of a cane he was using to beat time, gangrene set in, and Lully left this vale of our sorrows. See what happens when you get religion?

#41 silvy

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 05:47 AM

To Grace, or whoever knows:

What did Erik Bruhn die of? And John Cranko?

thanks
silvy

#42 Mashinka

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:07 AM

I was told that Eric Bruhn, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. John Cranko died after a seizure on a plane journey.

John Gilpin's death I also consider tragic: after battling with alcoholism and surviving thrombosis (he was lucky not to lose his leg), he at last found happiness after marrying his long time friend and confidante, Princess Antoinette of Monaco. He died of a heart attack only months after the wedding.

#43 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:01 PM

Perhaps one ought not to post speculatively, but I am pretty sure I read in one of the Nureyev biographies that EB's cancer might have been hurried on by an HIV infection.

#44 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:06 PM

Mel, did you you see that superb film, Le Roi danse? I was in ecstasy throughout, but poor Heather HATED it. It seemed to suggest that that Lully died impenitent, but perhaps I'm misremembering. Lully used to wear a rather shocking talisman (of sorts) around his neck (and NO, I'm not going to reveal here what it was). Surprisingly enough, the film didn't include this detail.

#45 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 01:04 PM

I didn't see the film, but I do know that Lully wasn't terribly sincere about his religious output. Even Louis XIV, who didn't much care about what other people did, was fairly disgusted with Lully, for whom the term "flaming queen" might have been invented. He had married, but that was viewed as a political move. But he was the Music Master to the Royal Family, and his religious music was a supply response to client demand.

Now, as to Bruhn's death, in 1986, at that time AIDS/HIV was still a Great Unspeakable in many quarters, and it wasn't until the death of Robert Joffrey the following year that the "cover stories" of previous cases started unraveling. In Joffrey's case, the cover was particularly outlandish - a liver failure brought on by antiasthmatic medication. It blew apart in hours, when medical reporters expressed ignorance of any such drug with lethal hepatic side-effects.


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