Day 290 of Colourisation Project – February 21
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Former director of the Royal Ballet, Anthony Dowell, called her “a guiding light and a shining example for generations of Royal Ballet dancers; she was the complete professional, a true and glamorous star both on and off the stage, and an inspired and unique artist”.
Born Margaret (Peggy) Evelyn Hookham in Surrey, England in 1919, her mother was the illegitimate daughter of an Irish mother and Brazilian father by the surname of Fontes, which is the Portuguese plural for ‘fountain’ and from which she adopted her stage name Fonteyn.
Better known to the world as Dame Margot Fonteyn, Prima Ballerina Assoluta of The Royal Ballet, her name dominated British ballet for more than 40 years.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time, she was still dancing at an age when most dancers are considering retirement. Fonteyn, at the age of 42 began a celebrated partnership with Soviet Union exile, Rudolph Nureyev in the early 1960s. She was nearly nineteen years his senior and the electricity between them was palpable. So formidable was their partnership that in October 1964 in Vienna, they entered the Guinness Book of World Records after having received 89 curtain calls at the end of Swan Lake – a record for curtain calls which remains unequalled to this day.
Fonteyn who was made Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1956, made her last appearance as a dancer in Nureyev’s 1979 summer season, when she was 60 years old.
Dame Margot Fonteyn died on this day, 21 February, 1991 of cancer in Panama City, Panama, aged 71.
For your entertainment today, I leave you with a 1962 video clip of Margot Fonteyn (aged 42) and Rudolph Nureyev (aged 24) dancing the Pas de Deux from Act 2 of Giselle.