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Ballet Dancers of Indian or Pakistani Heritage


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26 replies to this topic

#1 perky

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 02:48 PM

Reading the other post on Minorities in ballet has got me wondering.
I'm married to a man originally from India. Our 3 1/2 year old daughter has just started taking creative movement dance classes. If or when she decides to take ballet what role models are available to her?

The ones that come to my mind are a ballerina with the Royal Ballet in the 1990's whose name escapes me at the moment, and Amar Ramasar with NYCB, whose career my husband and I follow quite closely. Are there more?

#2 Lovebird

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 03:02 PM

At the Royal Ballet there was Benazir Hussein, a wonderful and very tall dancer. She did Myrtha and Lilac Fairy, which is on tape, Aurora being Viviana Durante. And even before her there was Nicola Katrak, a really beautiful principal dancer at the Sadler's Wells, now Birmingham Royal Ballet, she was Iranian. She is on tape too, in The Rake's Progress. She was often compared with Margot Fonteyn, same dark hair and eyes, medium height, and pale skin color. There was also Stephen Jeffries's wife, Padma.

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 03:20 PM

and rashna homji!

#4 Lovebird

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 03:34 PM

Oooooppss! Sorry about that Stephen Jeffries's wife is Rashna indeed, don't know why I said Padma, I was thinking of someone else, anyway I always mix up ethnic sounding names :wub: . Thinking harder now, what nationality was Ravenna Tucker? She was born in an exotic land, but I don't remember which. :sweating:

#5 perky

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 03:49 PM

Aaaaaa!
Benazir Hussein was the one from the Royal whose name I couldn't remember.
Thanks!

#6 Ari

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 06:13 PM

Ravenna Tucker grew up in Hong Kong, but I believe she was of British parentage. She always looked somewhat Asian, however. Someone posted here recently that she is now back in Asia -- Singapore? -- teaching.

#7 glebb

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 06:37 PM

Remember Afshin Mofid who was Iranian and French? He was a NYCB beauty.

#8 Lovebird

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 06:38 PM

No, Ravenna wasn't the Pakistani girl, it was another girl, who graduated in her same class, who was. Samira Saidi, graduate of RBS and danced with the Royal, was Pakistani, I think. Never saw her dance, though.

#9 Farrell Fan

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 07:27 PM

Thanks for recalling Afshin Mofid, Glebb. He was superb in "Afternoon of a Faun."

#10 glebb

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 07:31 PM

So special in the role that, correct me if I'm wrong, Suzanne Farrell requested to dance the pas de deux with him.

#11 Farrell Fan

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 07:50 PM

I'm sure you're right. :wub:

#12 carbro

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 09:26 PM

Farrell Fan, you beat me to it! I was going to thank Glebb for mentioning the uniquely hypnotic Afshin. Had I the least bit of credibility as a dancer, :wub: I would have demanded to dance with him! :) Yeah, right!

As for women of Asian (though not South Asian) descent, Perky, I'd like to mention Stella Abrera, a Phillipine beauty now dancing as a soloist -- and quite impressively, most of the time -- at ABT. Marianna Tcherkassky spent her career there, most of it as a principal dancer. Marianna is the daughter of a Japanese mother and Russian father. Yan Chen, a soloist, recently retired from ABT. Janet Shibata, a gorgeously lyrical dancer, was a soloist at ABT before she joined Washington Ballet as a principal. Zhong-Jing Fang is a new and very promising member of ABT.

I know I am overlooking some, and I apologize. Is it possible that NYCB has never had an Asian woman dancing? However, Perky, I hope that by the time your daughter is ready to consider her professional options, her racial background will be a non-issue.

#13 perky

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 04:55 AM

Amen to that Carbro.

#14 Lovebird

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 10:29 PM

Just wanted to add, I was surprised with the comment that NYCB has never had a female of Asian descent in its company. And then I thought it over, and it tickled me no end, and it's true! Why is that?

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 04:02 AM

From looking at the cases of several Asian students from SAB, I recall their being recruited out of C level classes by other companies before the NYCB could act to bring them in. Usually, it was one season of being supplementary corps members in Nutcracker, and they were scapped up by ABT, or Feld, or somebody else.


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