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maryrosesatonapin

Favourite underappreciated dancers

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There are celebrated ballet dancers whom almost everybody adores.  And then there are other, less stellar, dancers who appeal in spite of their more modest position in the ballet hierarchy.  One such was a dancer called Sandra Madgwick from Birmingham Royal Ballet, whom my partner and I followed in the nineties.  Although she wasn’t a world-shattering celebrity, there was something about this petite ballerina with her neat charm that entranced us, and we often went to a performance just to see her.  She had a distinctive, rather cheeky stage presence and never disappointed us. (I remember her being absolutely tiny, and she even had cute freckles!)
 

Does anyone else here remember Sandra, or have another 'old favourite' dancer who might not be widely known, but who was special for them?

madgwick.png

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I remember Sandra Madgwick as Clara in the 1994 telecast of BRB's Nutcracker. I videoed it & watched it repeatedly. I was 9 at the time & very much identified with Clara. I remember being a bit disappointed that when I went on a school trip to see the production live the following year that it was a different Clara. As I didn't see BRB again until 2 months ago I therefore never saw Madgwick live, but still think of her as the first dancer I who really liked.

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I adored Sandra. There was a recording of her in Coppelia with Sergei Pobereznic which I used to watch constantly as a child. 

 

After Sandra retired from dancing, my mum found out she was known personally to a friend of a friend. I drew a picture of Sandra and sent it to Sandra for her to keep but she signed it and sent it back to me! I still have it somewhere. 

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Excellent choice!  She deserved far more renown than she had, especially when dancing with Michael O'Hare in works such as Fille and Two Pigeons.  She was a very fine Aurora too.  There were works such as Gerda in The Snow Queen where it could be argued she exceeded the original.

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Just now, Two Pigeons said:

She deserved far more renown than she had, especially when dancing with Michael O'Hare

Yes, she was great alongside Michael O'Hare.  But I think part of the lack of renown was her lack of flashiness - she wasn't a diva, she just worked hard and gave of her sweet best without any self promotion.

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Actually, I was lucky enough to interview her after she had retired and was the mother of 3 boys as I remember.  I remember two things she said very clearly.  The first was how much she enjoyed being involved in the creation of Hobson's Choice.  The second was that she doubted she would ever have got into the Royal Ballet School as tall dancers were so much more in demand in later years.

 

Along with Marion Tait I cannot think of a more splendid example of a typical SWRB dancer in the mode of Brenda Last.  She was a fast, secure, soubrette dancer who was both funny and moving through a wide range of roles.  I remember saying that if she had been turned down by the RBS what a lot we would have missed.

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I liked Sandra Madgwick a lot too.  One of my memories of her was when she popped out without makeup or wig as Juliet when Monica Zamora's debut in the role was cut short by injury early in the show.  As we had driven to Birmingham especially for Monica's debut we were a little nonplussed, but Sandra gave a lovely performance and we went home happy.

 

Other dancers who have had less of a following but whom I remember with pleasure are Ravenna Tucker (Principal) and Chloe Davies (Soloist) both Royal Ballet.  I found their soft, lyrical style very appealing.  I remember Chloe standing in for an injured Darcey Bussell at the premiere of Wheeldon's Pavanne, partnered by wonderful Jonathan Cope.  Although Darcey created the role I preferred Chloe's performance of it when I later say Darcey dance it.

Edited by AnneMarriott
Add dancer's name for clarification.
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Add me as another Madgwick fan: you could always guarantee a good performance with her.  And one of my favourite Lises.

 

I'm slightly discomfited, though, at calling a principal dancer "lesser"!  I was thinking of lower-ranked dancers, and will have to put my thinking-cap on here.

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45 minutes ago, alison said:

I'm slightly discomfited, though, at calling a principal dancer "lesser"!  I was thinking of lower-ranked dancers, and will have to put my thinking-cap on here.

I agree - bad choice of word although it was in quotes.  Maybe I should have said 'unsung'.

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Very happy memories of Sandra Magdwick as Aurora with Michael O'Hare at the ROH. A lovely dancer to recall :-)

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4 minutes ago, Jamesrhblack said:

Very happy memories of Sandra Magdwick as Aurora with Michael O'Hare at the ROH. A lovely dancer to recall 🙂

 

James - two minds one thought!  

 

I saw Sandra Madgwick and Michael O'Hare at a Saturday matinee at ROH.  Sandra's Rose Adagio was so beautiful that it stands in my mind as a benchmark for all other Auroras to match up to.  Before and since that afternoon I seen many other Auroras give many wonderful (and some not so wonderful) performances but none have matched her.

 

I also remember the performance of Romeo and Juliet where Monica Zamora started the performance and Sandra Madgwick had to take over from the balcony duet.

 

She was a very memorable Lise.

 

 

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I agree that "lesser" is not necessarily an appropriate description, IMHO, for any dancer.  I think TP's "under appreciated" sounds better.  If everyone else agrees we can change the title.

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Dancers I have thought under-appreciated over the years include:

 

Jayne Regan, ex-Northern Ballet

 

Ambra Vallo and Victoria Marr of Birmingham Royal Ballet

 

Daniel de Andrade of Northern Ballet

 

 

I often think that, except for the Royal Ballet (and I am not saying there are not under=appreciated dancers there) where reviewers may well see more than one cast or works are recycled more regularly, people's perceptions are shaded by who is first cast (usually reviewed).

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36 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

I agree that "lesser" is not necessarily an appropriate description, IMHO, for any dancer.  I think TP's "under appreciated" sounds better.  If everyone else agrees we can change the title.

Please do change it!  I seem unable to.

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Slightly off the point, but not that far off, when Yasmine Naghdi was promoted to Principal her photograph was on the front page of the Times.  It was stressed that she was a British dancer.  I have no issue with this and, frankly, bully for her.

 

I would have thought that the promotion to Principal of the equally British Brandon Lawrence might have merited similar treatment.  Like so much to do with BRB there was barely a ripple in any of the national papers.

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I don't think your comment is off topic at all TP.  I absolutely agree with you.  Interestingly enough Brandon does get quite a lot of publicity (I know from doing the links) but not at national press level on the whole.

 

I remember the excitement and coverage when RB dancers have done well at Varna but no mention whatsoever when Chi Cao won the gold medal there early in his career with BRB!

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Anais Chalendard, Bridgett Zehr both at English National Ballet.

Alfreda Thorogood RB

Svetlana Beriosova RB

Guess it should specify under appreciated by?  Management? Press?

Underused?

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4 minutes ago, betterankles said:

Guess it should specify under appreciated by?  Management? Press?

Underused?

When I started this thread I just meant 'who do you think should be remembered but might not be?' or something along those lines... just a general chat really, to fill the post-Bolshoi gap. So any answers are valid.

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Belinda Hatley - RB.  Sadly her career was overshadowed by that of Darcey Bussell, but for me she was a much more complete dancer.  The best principal that never was. 

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Belinda Hatley absolutely. Unfortunately, I was only able to see her towards the end of her career and I believe she had had many difficulties with injury. Her Giselle was lovely. I was much more emotional at the end of her last ROH performance (in Symphonic Variations) than Darcey’s at the end of the evening. 

Edited by Ianlond
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9 minutes ago, Ianlond said:

Belinda Hatley absolutely. Unfortunately, I was only able to see her towards the end of her career and I believe she had had many difficulties with injury. I was much more emotional at the end of her last ROH performance (in Symphonic Variations) than Darcey’s at the end of the evening. 

Me too....and the muted farewell she got compared to the hullabaloo for Darcey made me sad.  

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10 hours ago, Sim said:

Belinda Hatley - RB.  Sadly her career was overshadowed by that of Darcey Bussell, but for me she was a much more complete dancer.  The best principal that never was. 

Definitely agree dear Sim.  Belinda was a really talented and lovely dancer - very musical, technically assured and with great dramatic ability.  Her Aurora was outstanding.  She was wonderful in Matthew Hart's Bloodlines - an intensely dramatic performance.  Very sadly overlooked and overshadowed when she should not have been!!!  

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17 hours ago, Tony Newcombe said:

I remember her well. She had an incredibly secure technique.

A delightful ballerina - was enthralled from the beginning when she danced Lise at the RBS matinee.  Her love, enthusiasm and brightness shone over the footlights - always gave so much joy to her audience in a selfless and unmannered way.  

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Here is my list of the the dancers I felt weren’t fully appreciated when they were at the ‘height’ of their dance careers;

 

Ann Jenner

 

Deborah Bull - an amazing and athletic dancer and I preferred her to D Bussell to be honest

 

Fiona Chadwick (overshadowed by Briony Brind Maybe?) Beautiful lyrical dancer

 

Rosalyn Whitten

 

and more recently,

 

Romany Padjek - thankfully she has been recently promoted though!

 

Emma Maguire (now left the RB but I always felt she was a bit under-appreciated)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Viviana Durante.  Such a beautiful dancer but Darcey had all the limelight.

 

And now... Ed Watson.  Seemingly vanished with no fanfare, no announcement, no acknowledgement of his immense contribution.  I never thought he would be discarded so quickly

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And Alina and Johann.  Now you saw them, now you didn't.  I arrived for Mayerling and was told it was their last night at RB.  Yes, I know there had been problems with management but this is one instance where KOH should have been big enough to bid them a proper goodbye.  Not for RB but for their many fans over the years.  It was a terrible way to let the top couple, two of the greatest dancers in the world, go.

Edited by penelopesimpson
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25 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

And Alina and Johann.  Now you saw them, now you didn't.  I arrived for Mayerling and was told it was their last night at RB.  Yes, I know there had been problems with management but this is one instance where KOH should have been big enough to bid them a proper goodbye.  Not for RB but for their many fans over the years.  It was a terrible way to let the top couple, two of the greatest dancers in the world, go.

They were understandably angry and hurt; it's difficult to understand!

 

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