Magazine article Dance Magazine

Dame Alicia Markova (1910-2004)

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Dame Alicia Markova (1910-2004)

Article excerpt

One of the great ballerinas of the 20th century, Dame Alicia Markova died last December just after her 94th birthday. She was a Romantic ballerina of fugitive lightness, with a delicacy as much like steel as late. She had precise Cecchettistyle feet and wraith-like arms. Sometimes it seemed that she didn't dance to music--she fused with it, and almost disappeared into it.

Born Lillian Alicia Marks in London, she studied from the age of 11 with the great Russian teacher Seraphine Astafieva. When she was 14 she joined the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, and could therefore be counted the first of the "baby ballerinas." Diaghilev changed her name to Markova, and Balanchine created Le Chant du Rossignol for her. When Diaghilev died in 1929 she returned to England, where she soon became involved with the Camargo Society, marking the beginnings of British ballet. In 1931 she became the first prima ballerina of the newly formed Vie-Wells Ballet, now The Royal Ballet, dancing Odette/Odile in the first complete Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake to be seen outside Russia.

She left the Vic-Wells in 1935 (her successor was Margot Fonteyn) to found the Markova-Dolin Ballet with her longtime partner Anton Dolin. Three years later, she was invited by Leonide Massine to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and in 1941 she moved over to the newly formed Ballet Theatre, where Dolin was already installed. At Ballet Theatre (later American Ballet Theatre) she created the leading role in Massine's Aleko, and worked with Antony Tudor, whom she had met in London before the war while dancing with Marie Rambert's Ballet Club. …

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