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Katherine Healy

42 posts in this topic

you'd have to ask her i suppose. she's married and teaching and sometimes appears in ice shows. at any rate, she was always a skater, so it's not so strange, really.

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You might check out the information in her entry on wikipedia. If it's anywhere near accurate, it sounds like she was much more dancer than skater, and is still involved in teaching advanced ballet.

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Healy’s name comes up on a regular basis, so if you do a search I think several discussions should pop up. Her skating never advanced very far – she turned pro around age nine as I recall.

does anyone have any ideas as to why she stopped dancing after Monte Carlo / Vienna and has done only figure skating ever since?

I saw an interview she gave to ABC Sports when she returned to skating just after marrying the skating coach Peter Burrows and she talked about how awful and soul killing the ballet world was. Sounded quite bitter.

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I came across this video of her in a private ballet class at the age of 10. she was AMAZING! does anyone have any ideas as to why she stopped dancing after Monte Carlo / Vienna and has done only figure skating ever since?

here's the video that so impressed me--> Vera Nemtchinova & Katherine Healy Aurora Variation 1979

I came across a video of her too and I was really impressed. Have a look on Youtube: Irish Springtime - Baby Katherine Healy Ballet. I know that at one time she injured herself.

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She was an extraordinary child. To have three "godfathers" like Balanchine, Nureyev and John Curry looking after her augured a brilliant future. She made at least one movie (with Mary Tyler More, in which she danced.) She was in NYCB's Nutcracker. But there was prep school and university and skating and ballet, and that's a lot even for a very gifted young person.

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I used to think there must have been deep pockets in the family for the parents to be able to cough up for all that.

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When a child, even a very young child, is as abundantly gifted as Katherine, there is usually some kind of financial aid available. Did the Healys take any? I don't know.

Resources beyond the financial are also taxed. As a child and teen, Katherine's mom was never far away. Clearly her life's purpose was ensuring the realization of her daughter's many talents. Nurturing a gift so devotedly takes more than just money. Someone once approached my stepmother about one of her children, noting likely "Olympic potential," and a four-times a week hour commute each way to lessons. Her reply, "What about my other kids?" I don't know that the Healys could have given Katherine all that they did had there been another child or two in the house.

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i remember katherine's dad being a lawyer but i don't know anything else about that.

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When I had been watching ballet for about a year, Katherine Healy (with Trinidad Sevillano too) joined London Festival Ballet as a principal dancer at the age of 16. I think she and Trinidad were touted as the modern age's equivalent of the "baby ballerinas". She was with the company for two or three years and I always enjoyed her performances. She seemed far more mature than her years.

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Another feather in her cap: Ashton chose her as first cast when his Romeo and Juliet was revived. It's interesting. One could look at her career and think: so much talent unrealized. But then when you really look at her career, you think "Wow, how many dancers get to work with Balanchine, Ashton, skate professionally, do a film with Mary Tyler Moore (and do it well enough to get nominated for a Golden Globe), graduate from Princeton...etc... Not a bad life!

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Golden Globes aren’t that big a deal, and the movie was a turkey. Still, it was a feature film.

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Another feather in her cap: Ashton chose her as first cast when his Romeo and Juliet was revived. It's interesting. One could look at her career and think: so much talent unrealized. But then when you really look at her career, you think "Wow, how many dancers get to work with Balanchine, Ashton, skate professionally, do a film with Mary Tyler Moore (and do it well enough to get nominated for a Golden Globe), graduate from Princeton...etc... Not a bad life!

Not to mention skate competitively and professionally, compete well at Jackson, and return to competitive professional skating after a dance career. Her performance in a bad film was quite accomplished.

I think the basis for thinking of talent not realized may be that she didn't dance for what most would consider a major company. Many of us on this site know how much talent there is outside major companies.

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My wife and i saw her debut in Coppelia( with Patrick Armand) for the ENB(or LFB) at the Colisseum. She was marvelous and was well received by the audience. I don't remember the year. I was hoping that she would eventually dance with one of the US companies.

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Not to mention skate competitively and professionally, compete well at Jackson, and return to competitive professional skating after a dance career.

Her skating wasn’t wildly impressive, but then it could hardly be so considering she turned pro so early. I remember seeing her in some of those pro competitions on television and she wasn’t in the same league with the other skaters. I’m sure her dancing was much better.

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Another feather in her cap: Ashton chose her as first cast when his Romeo and Juliet was revived. It's interesting. One could look at her career and think: so much talent unrealized. But then when you really look at her career, you think "Wow, how many dancers get to work with Balanchine, Ashton, skate professionally, do a film with Mary Tyler Moore (and do it well enough to get nominated for a Golden Globe), graduate from Princeton...etc... Not a bad life!

Good points, Dale! She spoke about working with Ashton at an Ashton conference in England several years ago. I did not attend, but published, and read, articles about it, and everyone who mentioned her spoke of her highly -- very intelligent, very poised, had obviously understood the ballet and how Ashton worked.

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Katherine Healy's paper at the Ashton Conference was a long and invaluable description of how he worked with her before her first performance in his Romeo and Juliet. You can read it in the online version of Following Sir Fred's Steps, the book which contained all the talks and discussions from the conference.

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Thank you for posting that, Jane! That article is a wonderful answer to "whatever happened to Kathy Healy?"

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Thre's also a link to a brief biio, as of 1994.

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Well, from the videos I saw on youtube, I can tell even if she wasn't a strong jumper, her skating was quite impressive for such a young girl. She really had the full package, a stretch and a posture that reminded me of a young Sasha Cohen.

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In my opinion, she had the same qualities as a skater when she left ballet to skate professionally. Whenever her name is mentioned on figure skating boards -- the same question is asked there -- there are always multiple posts lauding the balletic quality of her skating, her line, her posture, and the finish and polish of her movement.

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On the To dance or not to dance it... thread, in a discussion of Trinidad Sevillano, Simon G wrote:

But what Schaufuss also did was bring in three very very young talented ballerinas and elevated them to principal status in a very baby ballerina Ballets Russes De Monte Carlo manouever. They were Katharine Healy, who could do anything, as long as it was technique, an Australian Susan Hogard who was in the Guillem/Bussell mould and Sevillano.

Healy stayed two years then went back to university, she was probably the most technically accomplished on a level of tricks and indeed she always struck me as far too sensible and intelligent a person to sacrifice her life to ballet.

I'm reading the great figure skater Toller Cranston's book, "Zero Tollerance", and I just came across this passage on Healy:

Katherine Healey's Dilemma

The question was asked whether Katherine Healy would also star in the show ["Ice" at Radio City Music Hall]. She was officially invited, and money seemed no object at all.

Katherine did not have world or Olympic credentials, but she had a uniqueness that holds its own in this century. She was a child prodigy, a ballet dancer, and a skater of renown. She was torn between the two passions. As a result, neither the dance world nor the skating world could truly take her seriously...

Katherine arrived in Lake Placid [where rehearsals were being held]. Although she was neither a Robin Cousins [1980 Men's Olympic Champion] nor Peggy Fleming, some of us -- I can at least speak for myself -- were rather in awe. As a one-of-a-kind property, she made all sorts of stupendous creative demands (that may or may not have been her right) because she was already a star ballerina. She could not -- and it must have been so difficult -- make up her mind either to be part of the unique and historical ice show that was going to devastate the world or to remain aloof because of her pure and integral commitment to dance.*

I believe that it was at a Superskates show that I saw Katherine Healy skate to Don Quixote. To this day I have never seen a performance like it: the quintessential best of dance applied to ice. She became the perfect character in her role. That performance ranks among the most incredible I've ever seen. I felt intimidated and somewhat Phillistine if I compared myself to her.

*According to Healy, who became a prima ballerina with the Vienna State Opera Ballet, she wanted to appear in Ice but was prevented from doing so by Elva Oglanby [not sure if footnotes are by Cranston, his 'with' author Martha Lowder Kimball, or someone in McLelland and Stewart's fact-checking department]

It's interesting that Simon wrote that Healy could do anything technical in ballet, because her competitive skating career was stopped by her jumping technique and ability. By the mid-late 70's, up-and-coming contenders (ex: Fratianne, Biellmann) were already doing full sets of doubles and some of the triples; Healy "wrapped" many of her jumps -- ie, jumped with her leg in a close-to-passe position, as if she were doing a pirouette -- instead of keeping them straight and together. Very few skaters, most notably Midori Ito, arguably the best women's jumper ever, were able to defy the laws of physics and jump triples or the most difficult doubles with a wrap, especially today, where under-rotations are penalized by a technical panel. Even had she not turned pro at 11, it is unlikely she would have been competitive as a amateur.

Here's a clip from 1997, after Healy had left Vienna State Ballet and hadn't skated for seven years, in which she is first interviewed by Roslyn Summers about why she left ballet and then skates to "Don Quixote". I'm not certain this is the same program Cranston saw years earlier, but it's quite beautiful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8d2ov28Y2A

By 1997, she had already skated with John Curry, danced with London Festival Ballet, earned an honors degree from Princeton, danced in Monte Carlo for a year and Vienna State Opera Ballet for six. She was 28.

About artistic demands, it's not surprising, since Healy worked with John Curry, who set the bar in the West.

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Apart from all her other skills she wrote intelligent and extremely articulate articles for the Dance Now magazine. What an enormously talented lady.

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It's interesting that Simon wrote that Healy could do anything technical in ballet, because her competitive skating career was stopped by her jumping technique and ability

She studied ballet longer and more intensely and plainly she was better at it. The skill sets required of ballet dancers and skaters are as different as they are similar so there's not necessarily any paradox.

I remember Cranston's comments. Not entirely flattering.

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Healy studied under and performed with John Curry before she became a professional ballet dancer. Curry demanded as much seriousness and commitment from his skaters as many a great ballet teacher. As a professional, he pared down jumps to the minimum, after performing three types of triples in his 1976 Free Skate. (Four years later, Robin Cousins attempted four triples, including a repeat of the triple toe or triple salchow, but he did not land his triple loop, the most difficult of his triples, which Curry landed with ease, in his Olympic free skate. Curry had excellent difficulty for his time.) He would not have demanded the most difficult jumps of Healy, rather other qualities, like the ability to spin in both directions, superior edge control, and alignment and posture not required by many a skating coach outside school figures.

The irony is that Simon G's characterization of Healy as a dancer was that she was highly technical, but not a great artist, while the criticism of Healy as a skater by many was that she did not have the technique -- by which they meant jumps, because her spirals, spins, and edges were beautiful -- but was considered a great artist on ice.

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