I have kind of a thing for ballet dancers. There are lots of great ballet documentaries: Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse, Ballets Russes, Amargosa, about California’s own Marta Becket, to name just a few.
Anyway, finally, I got to write about prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. If you’re interested yourself, don’t miss Meredith Daneman’s (somewhat dishy but still enthralling) biography.
Here’s how this weeks arts and culture piece begins:
Tony Palmer’s documentary “Fonteyn” is a fascinating take on one of the greatest ballerinas of all time.
“This is the story of how the most famous dancer England ever produced was deceived and betrayed by those closest to her,” the film begins. “It is a story of courage and tenacity, of unbelievable devotion to her art and to those who she loved and who, in the end, left her penniless and alone, even to the extent that she was buried at first in a pauper’s grave. It is the stuff of fiction except that it is true.”
Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991), who was born Peggy Hookham to a British father and a Brazilian-Irish stage mother who came to be known as “The Black Queen,” danced her whole career for the Royal Ballet. “She represented England. That was it. She was the face of the motherland,” observes biographer Meredith Daneman.
“She had the curious quality of making you want to cry,” said Robert Helpmann, her first dance partner. “She had very bad judgment about people,” adds former assistant Colette Clark. “That was her weakness. … A lot of people used her, exploited her, cheated her”…
(Spoiler: Especially her Panamanian playboy husband).
|THAT’S IT, I’M BUYING AN EYEBROW PENCIL.|