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Alexander Grant


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#1 Alymer

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 12:51 PM

I've learned that Alexander Grant died late on Friday night. The actual cause of death seems to have been pneumonia, but he had been in hospital for some time following complcations after an operation.
He was a great dancer and a nice man.

#2 Helene

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 01:16 PM

What sad news.

Rest in peace, Mr. Grant.

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 02:15 PM



#4 Alexandra

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:00 PM

Very sad news indeed. He did his final performance (I was told) here in Washington as Alain in "La Fille Mal Gardee" in 1976, if I'm remembering correctly (and I think I am, as that was my first full season of ballet). That's the only time I saw him on stage, but he is a legend.

#5 Amy Reusch

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:31 PM

Didn't Ashton give him the rights to Fille because he made such a wonderful Alain? I see no mention of it in his wikipedia entry.(http://en.wikipedia....r_Grant_(dancer) ) I feel the wonderful Fille performances i saw at Boston Ballet and the Paris Opera were so because of Mr. Grant's gift for restaging. Thank you Alexander Grant for inspiring so many smiles.

#6 bart

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:55 PM

From Julie Kavanagh's biography of Ashton:

Alain is an even greater comic creation [than the Widow], a gift of love to Alexander Grant. The reeacted simpleton is never the maudlin figure he could have easily become, but combines the radiant stupidity that characterized Ashton's Cochenille in The Tales of Hoffmann with an endearing eccentricity encapsulated in his affection for his red umbrella. "Fred didn't want him to be an idiot. He's not tring to be sillyi, it's just his nature." His weak knees and turned-in toes recalled Grant's acclaimed portrayial of Petrkushka, another role hwich he took great care not to make self-pitying. Alain is a performance of perfect pitch; even his oafish dances are underplayed, with Ashton incorporating a private tribute to Grant's own idiosyncratically abandoned jumps. The dancer's main model came not from ballet but the theatre. Grant took his character's happy-go-lucky independence from Oliver Goldsmith's spurned suitor, Tony Lumpkin, whose catchphrase is "Ecod! I'll not be made a fool of no longer": the heroine could marry whom she pleases, and Alain, like Tony Lumpkin, would be "his own man again."

Possibly through nostalgia (or even settling old scores), Ashton gave Alexander Grant, rather than Nerina, the end of each act -- a perfect balance, whatever the motive may have been. Clutching his umbrella he takes flight in the storm as the curtain falls at half-times; in the final scene, he creeps back into the cottage to retrieve it. The epilogue may be derivative, but Ashton makes it seem not only original but also predestined: a good-natured, good-humoured indulgence of Alain's umbrella obsession, which sends the audience home chuckling.

Oddly, I was thinking of Petruschka when I watched the Russian dancer in the video linked by Mme. Hermine. There's the impression of a wonderful looseness of movement. And ... what about that buttock-wiggling crab-walk away from the camera right at the beginning of the clip? LOVE it.

Here's a photo of Grant (on the right), Nureyev, and Wayne Sleep -- the three Petrushka's in the Royal's 1975 season.

http://pix.avaxnews....320_medium.jpeg

#7 bingham

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 05:40 PM

Didn't Ashton give him the rights to Fille because he made such a wonderful Alain? I see no mention of it in his wikipedia entry.(http://en.wikipedia....r_Grant_(dancer) ) I feel the wonderful Fille performances i saw at Boston Ballet and the Paris Opera were so because of Mr. Grant's gift for restaging. Thank you Alexander Grant for inspiring so many smiles.

Very sad indeed. I was hoping that ABT would revive La Fille.Mal Gardee this coming season with him staging and coaching the company.May he rest in peace.

#8 Stage Right

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 08:30 PM

I am very sorry to hear this news! Does anyone know how old Mr. Grant was? A real loss to the ballet world.

#9 sandik

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 08:57 PM

Very sad indeed. I was hoping that ABT would revive La Fille.Mal Gardee this coming season with him staging and coaching the company.May he rest in peace.


He spoke at a Dance Critics Association conference the last time he worked on Fille for ABT and he was full of fun! As I understand it, he did own the rights to the ballet, but I'm not sure if they revert to the Ashton estate on his death.

#10 dirac

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 11:25 PM

Such a loss, indeed - one of the last and most important, if not the most important, direct links to Ashton. Grant takes so much with him. He has a monument -- an enduring monument, one hopes -- in the roles Ashton made for him that are warrant for and witness to his unique gifts.

#11 Drew

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 11:57 PM

Sad news--a great, great dancer. The first time I saw the Royal was a performance of La Fille Mal Gardee at the Met in 1970 and he was Alain, hilarious and heartbreaking!

I thought his last performance with the Royal was as the husband in A Month in the Country--they were on tour in D.C. Grant took a solo bow at the end of that performance, and I was one of a group who waited backstage for him. When he saw us, he said several times how touched/surprised he was (I can't remember his exact words) that this tribute from fans was happening in Washington D.C.

A Washingtonian myself I was quite irritated when several people there rushed to tell him that they were from New York and did so exactly as he was expressing how touching it was that this would happen in Washington...I realize they probably wanted him to know that they had come down especially for the performance, though there also seemed just a whiff of disdain (intentional or not) for anyone who was not a New Yorker in their manner of rushing past his pleasure at being well-known among Washington ballet fans--which, of course, he was.

In that performance of A Month in the Country he once again brought great depth and humanity to a character who might seem merely a clueless or insensitive dolt...one was able to feel for him even while understanding his wife's frustration and disappointment.

#12 glebb

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 05:56 AM

I worked with Mr. Grant in the late seventies and in the eighties when Mr. Joffrey was alive. Mr. Grant coached me in the roles of Puck and Alain. He was a very kind teacher. He also created the role of Drosselmeyer in Mr. Joffrey's THE NUTCRACKER. Later as a ballet master for Joffrey in Chicago I was given the opportunity to accompany six dancers to Birmingham, England to perform Monotones as part of a BRB "Tribute to Sir Fred and Mr. B". Though I had rehearsed the dancers to bend like the Royal Ballet dancers, I warned them that his one criticism of our performance would be "They don't BEND" and when it happened I had to smile.

#13 Natalia

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:51 AM

While he was a wonderful performer, I best remember Alexander Grant as a juror, then an emcee, at the Jackson Int'l Ballet Competitions in the early years. This gentleman knew how to have FUN and always had a sparkle in his eye. He will be missed & he leaves behind LOTS of friends in the USA, not least in Jackson, Mississippi. May he rest in peace.

#14 bart

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 04:32 AM

There is an obituary by Anna Kisselgoff in the print edition of the Ny Times today. In regards to the character he created, Alain:

Although many called Mr. Grant a character dancer, he was more of a classical dancer who used ballet technique in a demi-caractère style, which is less concerned with academic niceties.

It was Mr. Grant’s ability to portray a character through dancing rather than mime that made him outstanding. Ashton recognized this quality and cast him as the Jester in his new “Cinderella” (1948).


There's a nice photo -- quite UN-Alain -- of Grant seducing a supine Margot Fonteyn. The date is 1951. Is this from Daphnis and Chloe?

http://www.nytimes.c...&ref=obituaries

#15 Jane Simpson

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 04:45 AM

Yes, it's Daphnis and Chloe, but unfortunately I think it's Michael Somes and Violetta Elvin rather than Grant and Fonteyn. (It's miscaptioned on the Getty site)


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