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Sonia Arova


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#1 Steve Keeley

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Posted 10 February 2001 - 03:55 AM

The following insert was in the San Diego Ballet program tonight:

San Diego Ballet would like to pay special tribute to Dame Sonia Arova who passed away on Sunday, February 4, 2001, of cancer.

She danced with Rudolf Nureyev in hia American debut, at his request.  Kings and queens showered her with gifts in appreciation of her artistry.  In a United nations ceremony, she was knighted by King Olaz V of Norway, only the second woman ever to receive that distinction.

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Ms. Arova began her training in Paris.  When war broke out in 1940, she escaped the Nazis' advance with her English piano teacher in a harrowing flight during which their train was machine-gunned by German troops.  Arriving finally in England, Ms. Arova enrolled in an arts school and later joined the International ballet in 1942.  She went on to work as a principal dancer with the Original Ballet Russe, the London Festival Ballet, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.  Ms. Arova became artistic director of the Norwegian National Ballet in 1965 and in 1971 co-directed the San Diego Ballet with her husband, Thor Sutkowski.  They accepted principal teaching positions at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1976.  During her tenure there she became Alabama Ballet's artistic director and in 1996, the couple returned to San Diego, where their daughter, Ariane, lives.

San Diego Ballet dancers will miss her artistry, her dedication and devotion to dance, and what she instilled in them while teaching, will last a lifetime.


~Steve

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 10 February 2001 - 01:11 PM

Thank you very much for posting that, Steve. I always wondered where the "Dame" came from -- never knew it was from Norway. (How a Bulgarian got knighted in Norway. . . .)

The obituary doesn't mention that she was a frequent partner of Erik Bruhn's. She was one of the important ballerinas in the 1960s, as she joined some of the Ruth Page tours that took ballet to smaller cities -- a relentless schedule, traveling 300 miles a day, dancing at night in a school auditorium, etc. And she was a mainstay at ABT in the early 1960s.

ATM, did you see her dance? I've never seen her, even on film. She was very admired in her day, slightly before the time of super stars, and probably a bit overshadowed by Markova and Alonso at ABT (I think Posted Image )

#3 atm711

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Posted 11 February 2001 - 06:53 PM

I was very sorry to learn of Arova's passing.She was the classic "company ballerina"--always dependable, always good.But, as you said Alexandra, she was over-shadowed by Alonso and Markova.

#4 leibling

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Posted 11 February 2001 - 07:26 PM

When I was a little girl in Richmond, Va. , she would make guest appearances as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, but I don't have a clear memory of her dancing- I just remember her as very outgoing, and her partner was always signing someone else's name when we asked for his autograph ! But I think she was the first Sugar Plum I ever saw.

#5 Lillian

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Posted 12 February 2001 - 09:58 PM

I heard from some of Arova's students that -- as strange as it may sound -- she not only was the frequent partner of, but also was engaged to Bruhn. Anybody hear this one? It sounded like more than gossip.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 12 February 2001 - 10:19 PM

Lillian, there's a lot about Arova and Bruhn's engagement in John Gruen's biography ("Erik Bruhn, Danseur Noble.")

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 10:23 PM

Alexandra, remember that Peggy Wood was knighted by the King of Norway, for services to Norwegians by promoting a positive image of them in the old TV program I Remember Mama, and Ted Shawn was made a Knight of the Dannebrog (Denmark) for services to dance to the world. Royal Favor is a funny thing, and entirely anachronistic in the modern world, but I'm glad that it's still around!

#8 Guest_Cmonkey_*

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 11:43 AM

I was a little shocked to hear of Sonia's death...She was my director and teacher for four season's in Alabama Ballet/Ballet South. This was my first company upon graduation from Ballet Shcool. I was 18 and Sonia was not only an inspiration with her endless love of Ballet, but she was also a great mother-figure. Her dancers were always loved and encouraged. Though the company was small, and we toured every small town in the South, Sonia had more energy than most of her dancers! I believe her classes and rehearsals gave me strength and passion to go on to much bigger companies. My respect for her is endless...And I am deeply saddened for her family.

Originally posted by Mel Johnson:
Alexandra, remember that Peggy Wood was knighted by the King of Norway, for services to Norwegians by promoting a positive image of them in the old TV program I Remember Mama, and Ted Shawn was made a Knight of the Dannebrog (Denmark) for services to dance to the world.  Royal Favor is a funny thing, and entirely anachronistic in the modern world, but I'm glad that it's still around!




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