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cargill

Svetlana Berisova

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I just heard that the former Royal Ballet dancer Svetlana Beriosova has died. I saw her towards the end of her career, one of the great joys of my ballet life. so many people have said to me, in almost the same words, "Oh, Fonteyn was wonderful, of course, but you know the one I really loved was Beriosova". One of the reasons, I think, people feel so attached to her was that she came without any great fanfare or publicity, and people felt like she was their own private discovery. I had heard of her, but when she walked on as th eEmpress in Anastasia with those dark, luminous, soulful eyes, I felt such a personal connection. I did get to see her as Lady elgar, a similar but much richer role, and unforgetably as the Bride in Nijinska's Les Noces, wher she seemd to sum up hundreds of years of peasant endurance just by walking across the stage. And of course as the beautiful, magical Princess in Fokine's The Firebird. The closest I can come to describing her is to say she was like watching a cello come to life.

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"...like watching a cello come to life." What a lovely statement! This beautiful ballerina was also one of my early idols, and I never understood why she was not more famous. Does anyone know how old she was and what she was doing in her later years?

Victoria

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Beriosova was 66. She had been ill for only a few weeks with cancer. She had been used occasionally for coaching, but not nearly enough. Watching 'Enigma' the other week, knowing that she was lying desperately ill in a hospice, was a terribly sad experience; but fortunately she lives on in Ashton's wonderful choreography.

Mary, do you remember waiting for outside the stage door after she'd done 'Raymonda'? But we wouldn't have dreamed of actually speaking to her.

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Jane, Yes, I remember the Raymonda. The people waiting at the stage door started to applaud, and she sort of skipped into the waiting car. And of course, those thousands of daffodils when she did those Cinderellas in 1972. Mary

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This is indeed very sad news; the passing of anyone, great or small, diminishes the family of humanity, and is a loss to us all. This loss in particular serves to underscore the fragility of the legacy which is ballet. My heart is very heavy.

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I never saw Beriosova dance on stage, but I have seen her in a film of "Enigma Variations" and it's one of the most beautiful performances I've ever seen. The combination of restraint and warmth, vulnerability, the hint of a hidden heart -- all with impeccable technique and style, and so musical. She's one of the dancers I was so sorry to have missed. And to imagine, that the Royal had her AND Fonteyn at the same time, with Antoinette Sibley and Lynn Seymour coming up. We've lost a lot.

alexandra

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Early on as an audience member, I was very taken by COPPELIA. In her series of variations in Act II she did a kind of foute-entrechat combination (I know that this is an imprecise and absurd description, but...) which was just about the must exciting thing I'd ever seen. I thought it was part of the choreography. Later, I had occasion to see others do the role and they simply did not do it. Much later, I saw Beriosova again,and again she did the "pas de Beriosova."

It was a kind of danced cadenza. Unforgettable.

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Thank you for that, John, or I would not have remembered that Beriosova had ever danced Swanhilda. Isn't it interesting that in the 40s and 50s, the greatest ballerinas danced Swanhilda (Danilova, Fonteyn), and now it's been rather downgraded to a junior ballerina, or senior soloist, role?

alexandra

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