Sunday, 25 December 2016

Tribute to Moira Shearer

Author Ballerinaonlina
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Licence

Every performance of Sir Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells is sold out.  Having seen the show twice at the Lowry (see Red Shoes Bourne Again 3 Dec 2016 and The Red Shoes Second Time Round 4 Dec 2016) I am not surprised, The show was inspired by the film The Red Shoes which I reviewed on the 15 Nov 2015. The star of that film was Moira Shearer who danced from 1938 until 1987. Through that film she probably did more to inspire children to learn to dance, and the public generally to take an interest in dance, than any other artist, Margot Fonteyn not excepted. She certainly inspired me and by all accounts, she also inspired Sir Matthew.

Shearer was born in Dunfermline in 1926. She made her first professional appearance at Cambridge in Mona Inglesby's Endymion in 1938 when she would have been only 12 and it was Inglesby who gave Shearer her first job in Inglesby's newly formed International Ballet in 1941 at the age of 15. Shearer's last performance was in Gillian Lynne's A Simple Man for Northern Ballet Theatre in which she danced Lowry's mother (see Northern Ballet's A Simple Man 14 Sept 2013). I saw the ballet shortly after I had returned to Manchester. It was the first time that I saw the company (although I had followed it in the dance press since its formation) and it is the first and remains the main reason for my support of the company.

It is, of course, The Red Shoes for which Shearer is best known and its two short ballet sequences. The first is the extract from Swan Lake at the Mercury Theatre where Vicky Page is discovered by the impresario Lermontov (see  The Red Shoes (1948) ~My Favourite Movie YouTube). The second is the premiere of Lermontov's The Red Shoes at Monte Carlo (see The Red Shoes (1948) - Ballet Sequence YouTube).

Shearer retired as a dancer in 1953 but continued her career as an actor for many years. She married the journalist and broadcaster, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, in 1950 in the chapel of Hampton Court palace. Their wedding seems to have generated enormous attention (see the newsreel clip on YouTube). She and Sir Ludovic had four children. She died in Oxford in 2006.  She was a distinguished artist of two mediums, loved by many and greatly missed.

As this article appears on 25 Dec, I should like to wish all my readers around the world a very merry Christmas.

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