#FlashbackFriday: Nadia Nerina and David Blair in La Fille mal gardée

Nadia Nerina and David Blair in La Fille. Photo by John McKran via ROH.

How would you like to see the opening night cast of Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée—yes, from 1960—perform the ballet’s ribbon pas de deux? Nadia Nerina and David Blair, former principals of The Royal Ballet, appear in this clip from a BBC broadcast filmed two years after La Fille premiered.

The video may be black and white, but if it’s possible to feel color, Nerina as Lise and Blair as Colas are giving off rose and sunshine vibes. They’re all smiles and sweetness (and soaring legs, I saw that Nerina) in this lovers’ pas de deux.

Nadia Nerina in Sleeping Beauty (1951). Photo by Roger Wood via ROH.

 

Born in South Africa to British parents, Nerina became known at The Royal for her sparkling technique. Reportedly, she did 32 consecutive entrechat six in Swan Lake, doubling Rudolf Nureyev’s 16 in Giselle a few nights before. Brilliant technician though she was, Nerina was somewhat overshadowed by Margot Fonteyn, who swerved away from her anticipated retirement to start up her partnership with Nureyev.

David Blair also had a difficult time shining next to Fonteyn and Nureyev, but he continued performing and later established himself as a respected répétiteur and coach. He and Nerina live on in memory any time a dancer emulates Colas’ charm or Lise’s candor. Happy #FlashbackFriday!

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The Anatomy of Arabesque: Why Placement and Turnout Are Key to Achieving This Crucial Position

Audition for any school or company, and they'll likely ask for a photo in arabesque. The position not only reveals a great deal about a dancer's ability, but it is also a fundamental building block for more advanced movements, like penché or arabesque turn. Beyond technique, it can be the epitome of grace and elegance onstage, creating unforgettable images—just try to imagine Swan Lake or Balanchine's Serenade without an arabesque.

Yet many dancers are unsatisfied with their arabesque lines, and students frequently ask how to improve their extensions. (Social media posts of dancers with extreme flexibility don't help!) In an attempt to lift the back leg higher, dancers may sacrifice placement and unknowingly distort their position in the process. How can you improve the height of your back leg while maintaining proper placement and turnout? We talked to a few experts to better understand the science behind this step.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks