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.

Cynthia Gregory as the Firebird. Photo by Max Waldman via Flick River.

“All-American” and “exotic bird” don’t usually appear in the same context. When Cynthia Gregory appears in an American Ballet Theatre performance of Firebird, however, they do. One of ABT’s brightest stars in the late 20th century, Gregory is incredible in the title role of this 1970s Lincoln Center performance. This adaptation of Michel Fokine’s version also features former ABT principals John Meehan, as Prince Ivan, and Leslie Browne as the Princess.

Don’t have 50 minutes to spare? Skip to the Firebird’s entrance and her pas de deux with Ivan between 6:00 and 13:50. Gregory’s avian affectations are masterful, as is her interpretation of Stravinsky’s score. She punctuates sharp notes with wrist flicks and lightening fast legs, and enraptures with syrupy arms and supple back bends. At once timid and seductive in the arms of Ivan, Gregory has him—and us—hooked. Happy #FlashbackFriday!

 

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

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox