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Moira Shearer 1926-2006

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A sad farewell to a lovely dancer and person – who knows how many people had their first experience of ballet by watching Moira Shearer and her colleagues in “The Red Shoes"? This also marks the passing of the last of the original “Symphonic Variations” ballerinas and the first of Ashton’s Cinderellas. And on top of this, a great beauty, a natural actress, a writer, and wife and mother.

Here is the Internet Movie Database entry for Shearer.

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and the first of Ashton’s Cinderellas. 

I was fortunate to see her early in her career as Cinderella. Due to Fonteyn's illness, she got first chance at the role and I preferred her to Fonteyn, although those two august critics, Beaumont and Denby, even when reporting on Shearer's performance, lamented not seeing Fonteyn-----I guess not even Denby is perfect.

Rest in peace, lovely Moira.

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The obituaries and comments are coming in and we should avoid turning this into a links thread, but this is a good and representative one, from the UK Times, anonymous, as is the custom.

From an early age, Shearer had wanted to make her mark entirely by her ability as a dancer, and was unhappy at being singled out often for her exceptionally beautiful face and striking red hair. She was therefore somewhat doubtful about accepting an invitation to star in The Red Shoes, but was persuaded by de Valois that any success she achieved in this would be to the benefit of the company as a whole. In the event, the film achieved a fame beyond all expectations and her performance as the ballerina, acting as well as dancing, brought her international renown.

Thank you for that recollection, atm711. I imagine her footwork in Act I was delicious.

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One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the obits so far was that Shearer came from a musical family, on both sides – I recall reading that her maternal grandfather was a violinist and conductor, pretty much everyone could play an instrument, and there was always music in the house. Shearer herself had thoughts of becoming a pianist.

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Poor Moira Shearer might have had difficulties with her career at Covent Garden after her film, but just think of how she spread the word of ballet round the globe.

That she wouldnt have done dancing only at Covent Garden.

Those myriads of little girls who wanted to take up ballet after seeing the film; there must have been a great ballerina or two emanating from that - and all those others, who did not become ballerinas, but all the same enjoyed learning ballet and finding great benefit from ballet tuition.

Here sits one of those who had to quit at a too early age, but now enjoys ballet in other forms, namely studying dance history. I think I can thank Moira Shearer for sitting here in front of my computer. She inspired me. And I thank her for that! :beg:

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In the 27 March 2006 issue of The New Yorker, there was an item about a political fundraiser for the former attorney of Rhode Island's senatorial campaign that took place in the home of director Martin Scorsese and his wife, Helen. In describing their home, Nick Paumgarten wrote:

The Scorseses do not have what is known in Washington as a power wall, a gallery of me-with-important-people photographs. Instead, in their living room, the art work and memorabilia pay tribute to ancestry and the movies.

He then goes onto cite examples, one of which is

the pair of red ballet slippers worn by Moira Shearer in "The Red Shoes," which Scorsese bought at auction in London six years ago.

(Talk of the Town, p. 31).

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Shearer's husband, Ludovic Kennedy, died earlier this week. Mme. Hermine sent me the link to this obit:

In 1950, Mr. Kennedy married Moira Shearer, the ballerina in the classic 1948 film “The Red Shoes.” She died in 2006. They had three daughters and a son.

Mr. Kennedy’s fights against injustice began with the case of Derek Bentley, who was hanged in 1953 for the murder of a constable during a burglary. The constable was shot by Mr. Bentley’s accomplice, but three officers testified that Mr. Bentley had shouted, “Let him have it, Chris!” The shooter, a minor, drew a jail term, but Mr. Bentley was hanged.

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