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Ballerinas/danseurs who met tragic ends in real life

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#46 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 01:53 PM

I suppose the same might be said for Auber's religious music, which I have never heard, even though there is volumes of it. Hoever, he had the most civilized way of praying that I have ever encountered. Every morning he would compose a little andante, or adagietto, or something of that sort. No "smite my enemies" stuff in that!

#47 grace


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Posted 12 August 2003 - 03:34 PM

and then there's spessivstseva. and pavlova.

i must say i am surprised at HOW MANY we are coming up with...

and even fonteyn's end was not what every little girl's fantasy would have wished for her - too soon, too impoverished, and probably (speculatively:) lonely.

#48 Marga


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Posted 13 August 2003 - 08:20 AM

Death is always a wrench, but are there any dancers whose careers were cut short or lives cut short for truly dumb reasons?

I've been looking through my old Dance Magazines and came across a brief account of a ballerina's death that responds to this query. There is a small photo of her dancing with 2 male partners. She looks strong and accomplished with lovely lines. I don't remember ever reading her name or hearing of her, but then, I was only 14 when she died. The notice appeared in the September 1961 issue of Dance Magazine and is but a caption under her picture:

From "In The News" on page 53:

"TRAGEDY: Maria Fris, 29-year-old ballerina, one of Germany's leading dancers, plunged to death from the stage catwalk of the Hamburg Opera House during May 27 rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet. She had had to withdraw from role of Juliet because of recurrent ankle trouble. Shown here with long-time partner Rainier Kochermann and Paul Herbinger."

From her pose in the picture, she looks absolutely beautiful. I'm sure someone here must know of her. Her death must have devastated her admirers. It makes me feel sad! Seeing her photograph makes her real to me. Her death was truly senseless.

#49 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 02:24 PM

I don't think anybody who ever studied at the Old Metropolitan Opera House can forget The Bridge. It was a lighting apparatus, but everybody had to use it to cross from left to right when certain operas were hung. The old house had a fire early in its life, and they never got around to completely repairing the backstage cross-corridor behind the stage area. It always occurred to me that it would be awful to have a performance of "Gioconda" and have Enzo taken out by a falling ballerina from the Dance of the Hours.

#50 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 02:58 PM

Yes, Marga, I have a very faint recollection of Maria Fris, she was lovely. I was very briefly at the Hamburg Opera end 1959. Very sad, as I have heard, she didnt fall accidentally, she threw herself down.

#51 Marga


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Posted 13 August 2003 - 05:29 PM

Yes, Marga, I have a very faint recollection of Maria Fris, she was lovely.  I was very briefly at the Hamburg Opera end 1959. Very sad, as I have heard, she didnt fall accidentally, she threw herself down.

Oh my goodness! That is sad. No wonder the wording of the notice was the way it was. I thought the reference to "recurrent ankle trouble" meant that she somehow twisted her ankle causing her to lose her footing. Maybe when the announcement was published, the reason for her demise hadn't been made known yet to the public. So, maybe she had a moment of madness brought on by depression, if I may speculate as to what could make her do such a thing...?

#52 Hans


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Posted 26 August 2003 - 07:49 AM

It's so important to remember these people and to avoid the wasteful loss of other lives, but to take Emma Livry as an example, isn't it sad and ironic for a talented dancer to have her death to be the thing that defined her life? Is that all she is to be remembered for?

Just wanted to acknowledge Livry with this quote:

"[Le Papillon] was also the triumph of the unfortunate Emma Livry, who was to die at the age of twenty only a few months later, on July 26, 1863, from burns sustained during a rehearsal of La Muta di Portici, when her tutu caught fire from a proscenium light. She was a thin, rather plain girl, whose success was due to her technical and artistic gifts alone. The critics wrote of her that 'her steps would have left no imprint on the flowers.' Commenting on her favourite pupil's admirable performance, Taglioni said, 'It is true that I never saw myself dance, but I must have danced like her!' She gave poor Emma a photograph bearing the famous inscription: 'Make the public forget me, but do not forget me yourself.'"

#53 carbro


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Posted 26 August 2003 - 08:40 AM

Make the public forget me, but do not forget me yourself.

The utter humility of that quote is so touching and makes me believe that Taglioni must have been a truly extraordinary (selfless) artist. :wub: Thanks for that, Hans.

#54 FauxPas


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Posted 04 October 2006 - 07:20 AM

Having discovered this old thread through doing a search it reminded me of a story I had heard about a ballerina living in New York who was killed when a ceiling fell on her. I did an internet search and found her name: Miriam Rosa Toigo d'Angeli. She was a 39 year old Brazilian ballerina who was killed on March 12, 1990 in an Ansonia café called Croissant & Co. at Broadway and 74th St. in a freak accident when the ceiling collapsed. She had popped in for a coffee after her daily advanced dance class at Steps 74 close by. The tons of debris that fell on her caused asphyxiation and compression of the neck and chest. Miriam Toigo had studied in Russia at the Kirov School.

The Joinville Dance Festival has a special trophy named in her honor:


Here are some excerpts from a Newsday article from March 14, 1990 by Alison Carper and Joseph A. Gambardello :

"Born in Brazil to an Italian father and a Russian Jewish mother, d'Angeli studied dance in the Soviet Union and performed there professionally before coming to New York in the early 1980s, friends said.

In this country, she had danced for the Metropolitan Opera and in December performed in the USA Ballet's national tour of "The Nutcracker."

When d'Angeli was not dancing professionally or working as a translator or tour guide to pay bills - she spoke seven languages - she practiced nearly every day at Steps 74, a dance school less than a block from Croissant & Co., on the ground floor of the landmark Ansonia Hotel..."

"Before coming to New York, d'Angeli had studied dance in the Soviet Union after winning a scholarship with the Kirov State Ballet Group, her friends said. From 1975 until 1980 she was a "soloist" with the troupe and toured with the company in Brazil. "At a very young age, she was found to be a very great talent," said Bank. "She has a celebrity status in Brazil to this day."

But, after a family visit to Brazil a decade ago, Soviet officials for some reason denied d'Angeli re-entry, her friends said.

In Brazil, she danced with the Sao Paulo Municipal Theater and had the lead female role in such ballets as "Giselle," "Don Quixote" and "Le Sacre du Printemps."

In the U.S. Toigo D'Angeli had danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and was planning on returning to Brazil to dance and teach.

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article written by James Barron on March 14th, 1990:

"She was there by chance. And, in a way, she was in New York by chance. A friend, Elizabeth Prorwitsch, said Ms. Toigo-D'Angeli had come to this country for a holiday and was not allowed to go back to the Soviet Union, apparently because of her involvement with a Soviet dancer.

''It was one of the dancers she was very much in love with,'' Ms. Prorwitsch said. ''One of the prominent ones, I can't remember his name.''

Ms. Prorwitsch said that Soviet authorities apparently were determined to break up the romance at all costs, even if it meant leaving Ms. Toigo-D'Angeli stranded in a strange city.

''New York wasn't easy for her,'' said another friend, Jennifer Bank. ''She struggled, but she loved it.'' Her one-bedroom apartment was at the top of the stairs in a five-story walkup at 327 East 88th Street. It was filled with dance photographs - and then there were the scrapbooks, the superintendent's wife, Maria De Bono, said.

Ms. Bank said that Ms. Toigo-D'Angeli had danced for the Metropolitan Opera and with a ballet troupe in Chicago, but had ''her best years'' in the Soviet Union, with the Kirov Ballet from 1975 to 1980.Ms. Bank said.

In a letter of recommendation in 1985, Donald Mahler, who was the director of ballet at the Met at the time, called her ''a first-rate exponent of Russian dance.''

Another tragic dancer was Margarita Perkun-Bebeziche who was killed in a car accident with her husband on August 6, 1981 at the age of 24 when she had just won the gold medal at the 1981 Moscow International Ballet Competition in front of such judges as Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya and Robert Joffrey. The grand prix went to Irek Mukhamedhov. Another gold medal winner that year was the 17 year old Amanda McKerrow. Ulanova was deeply impressed with Perkun-Bebeziche and felt that she brought much of the passion and conviction to dance that she and others of her generation tried to bring to the art.

McKerrow, Janis Pikieris and Perkun-Bebeziche can be seen in the VHS release "Holiday of Ballet" a documentary on the fourth Moscow International Ballet Competition on a Kultur VHS release. Perkun-Bebeziche was seen in several of her winning performances with a long limbed elegant but also deeply emotive plastique grounded in good classical technique. I wondered what happened to her afterwards what she did in Russia but could find little or nothing about her.

Googling on the internet showed several mentions of her name including a few memorial web pages which told me of her tragic end. She had just returned from a tour of Peru with her home company, the Moscow Classical Ballet, and was riding in a car with her husband returning to Moscow from a short vacation by the Sea of Azov. In the early morning hours of August 6, 1981 just two months after her gold medal win, the car was struck by a truck on the Moscow-Volgagrad highway. Her husband Valery who was driving the car survived as did their poodle but Margarita was instantly killed. The truck driver was later found to be at fault for the accident. Very sad.

#55 artist


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Posted 24 February 2007 - 08:56 PM

Isadora Duncan, IMO Nureyev (and the drugs he took to "help" him w/ Aids though hurt him more), Fernando Bujones

#56 Snowbound


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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:39 AM

... but there have been others, like Ivy Clear of an earlier Joffrey era, who retired in her twenties, and could not tolerate to be around or even talk about dancing.

To add a ray of sunshine to a sad though interesting thread, Ivy Clear is whole and well, teaching ballet and directing a small ballet company in Maine. Her students adore her as a teacher, friend, mentor, and for her sharp wit and humor. Thankfully, time heals.

#57 carbro


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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:00 PM

Thanks for the update on Ms. Clear, Snowbound. The thread definitely can use a ray (or more) of sunshine. Good to know that ultimately, she found a way to thrive in ballet.

#58 bart


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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:06 PM

Henri III of France. Assassinated by a religious fanatic in 1589.

For a suggestion that Henri's addiction to dancing might have been involved, see:


#59 Natalia


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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:45 PM

The young Mariinsky dancer Vladimir Stepanov -- creator of the notation system that has allowed the reconstructions of so many old ballets -- died at the age of 30 in 1896.

#60 Hans


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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:49 PM

Mathilde Kschessinska, who died penniless in France in 1971. It's not just that she died in such unfortunate circumstances, but also that she never worked as a coach or ballet mistress. She had a school, but like many great dancers was not a very good teacher. One thinks of the imperial-era dancers as belonging to another age in a dusty text, but the 1950's and 60's were producing dancers who are teaching now. Imagine what she could have given us, even if it were just memories of Petipa, had she been consulted in a more useful way.

I also see in Imperial Dancer that Olga Preobrajenska's "belongings were sold (without her agreement or even consultation) during her lifetime."

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