Friday, September 08, 2006

Svetlana Berisova

One dancer who (I feel) did not realize the attention or acclaim she deserved was Svetlana Beriosova, perhaps due to her own self-doubts and cancelation record. Lithuanian-born, she spent most of her career with the Royal Ballet. I was lucky to see her in some of her greatest roles: Cinderella in 'Cinderella' and Lady Eldar in 'Enigma Variations' (both by Ashton), and The Hostess in 'Les Biches' and The Bride in 'Les Noces' (both revived by Nijinska from the Ballets Russes/Diaghilev repetoire).

I loved the extraordinary beauty of line (great clear open sculptural forms) and grandure of presentation - so fitted to roles like Aurora in 'Sleeping Beauty', as the photos below show. She had a certain remoteness that, in a curious way, allowed you to read what you wanted into a performance. In this, I am reminded of a famous photo of Greta Garbo, the signature picture for 'Queen Christiana'. The photographer instructed the actress to let her mind go totally blank, and people spent much time talking about Garbo's expressiveness. This is not to say Beriosova was 'neutral' as an artist in a role - quite the opposite.

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