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Vergie Derman


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I have just read a biography about her, and I would like to hear comments or impressions about her dancing and performances. She is supposed to have been surprisingly tall (5,8) considering the time, 1960-70, and company, Royal Ballet. She was also really pretty, she reminds me of the Vogue models of that era. Did anyone see her perform? She was a principal, surprising as she is not well known. Her career seems to have been based almost exclusively on the non-Petipa works in the company, she mostly danced the British gems that only the Royal dances, especially the Macmillan works. Any opinions? :wacko:

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Vergie Derman definitely looked like a model, as you can see on the cover of the Royal Ballet's 20th anniversary souvenir program, shown at seekunique.com. The ballet shown is Ashton's Jazz Calendar, which is based on the poem "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, etc." Vergie Derman was Monday's child.

That actually was the only ballet I ever saw her in. I guess she was a soloist at that time (ca. 1969-70). She looked very good, nice line and all, but I don't recall much about the choroegraphy. She was supposed to give the impression of a glamorous, high-fashion model, and she did.

Edited by djb
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I seem to recall Derman as fairy Violente in the old Messel version of Beauty, from which she graduated to Lilac Fairy. She was one of the few who could literally stand up to Alexander Grant as Carabosse, both in terms of simple stature, and also force of acting power.

Derman was fine in "Jazz Calendar", but Monday's Child suffers from being the first in a series of witty comments on the old nursery rhyme. And like many Ashton ballets, the work has build. Even if the performance level started HERE (indicating a spot slightly above the head, it ended up going THERE (indicating a spot somewhere in the stratosphere). It's minor Ashton, but even minor Ashton is better than most choreographers' most major days! I loved it. :wacko:

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I remember Derman most fondly as a glacial Wife in The Concert, and she was also well-cast as the Bride in Les Noces and as the tall girl who danced with Wayne Sleep in Elite Syncopations.

I think Swan Lake was the only full-length lead she had, but she didn't get it till very late - she'd already been in the company 13 years. She did classical solos by the dozen, though - I think she's in the Park/Wall Sleeping Beauty that was shown on television in the US. I always found her line a bit too angular for the classics.

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Oh yes, I had forgotten that amazing role she had in Elite Syncopations, as the tall girl who danced with the really short Wayne Sleep, judging from the pictures I saw, it seems like a very funny and entertaining highlight of that ballet. As a dancer, Derman seems to have had a comic and humourous, almost hilarious streak, and I think Macmillan and Ashton used it very well in the roles they made for her. Did anyone ever see her in Monotones or in the minor roles Macmillan made for her in Isadora and Anastasia?

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