MARGOT FONTEYN: Autobiography by Margot Fonteyn

MARGOT FONTEYN: Autobiography

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A cool, witty, abundantly illustrated autobiography, by the Prima, who after a ""carefree"" childhood seemed to glide onto center stage and at sixteen was dancing Giselle for Sadler's Wells. Dame Margot remembers her first outstanding teacher--""an indefinable mixture of the stylish with the slightly grubby that only an aristocratic personality from Czarist Russia"" could command--and the days when her ""soft"" feet were referred to as ""pats of butter."" There are other tributes to beloved teachers, mentors, and fellow-dancers: Ninette de Valois, the SW theatre school director; Frederick Ashton, who choreographed so many of her roles; Massine with his ""black holes"" of eyes; Danilova of the ""flame thrower"" charm; Ulanova (""the smooth perfection of thick cream poured from a jug""); and her beloved Nureyev, partner of her later years. Fonteyn's marriage in her thirties to Dr. Tito Arias of Panama (after a teen courtship and parting) was both joyful and tragic--her husband was paralyzed in an assassination attempt. But in the world of a great dancer the rapid plunge from warmth and glitter to the cold walk home is inescapable. She attempts the difficult task of explaining her on-stage consciousness: ""I am the character I portray. . . while an automatic device like a tape dictates my movements . . . when I can synchronize this to the music I am dancing to my satisfaction."" And she prefers pas de deux: ""I really like depending on my partner for inspiration and passion."" Throughout, Dame Margot tells her story in a rush of exquisite precision, like--as Ashton said of Pavlova--""a comet trailing everything behind her.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1976
Publisher: Knopf