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.
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!