|Born||Iris Margo Cohen
August 11, 1937
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Allegra Kent (born August 11, 1937) is an American ballet dancer and actress.
Born to Jewish parents, Harry Herschel and Shirley (née Weissman) Cohen, Kent grew up in a dysfunctional environment. In Once a Dancer: An Autobiography, she describes her Texan father ("who liked to substitute 'Cowboy' for Herschel") as having "a gambler's soul and a restless nature" (at pgs 5, 7). She describes her Wisznice (present-day Poland)-born immigrant mother as feeling "neither European nor American; she was ashamed of her [own] parents... she borrowed a neighbor's working papers and took a job at twelve. By fourteen, she was teaching ballroom dancing at night in someone's private home, mostly to Japanese men" (at pg. 6).
Born in Santa Monica, Kent studied with Bronislava Nijinska and Carmelita Maracci before joining the School of American Ballet. She had completely flat feet as a little girl and after seeing a doctor, he personally prescribed wedges in her shoes to give her arches. After doing so, she started taking ballet.
After graduating, she joined the New York City Ballet in 1953 at the age of 15, and was promoted to principal in 1957. Many roles in George Balanchine's ballets were created for her, including Seven Deadly Sins, Ivesiana and Bugaku. She danced the role of Dewdrop in the 1958 Playhouse 90 telecast of Balanchine's version of The Nutcracker.
She performed in such ballets as Serenade, Agon and Dances at a Gathering. She retired in 1981, becoming a ballet teacher, and in 1997 published an autobiography, Once a Dancer. In 2012, Kent published her first book for children, Ballerina Swan, with Holiday House Books for Young People, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully. It has received rave reviews from The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal. Allegra Kent currently teaches ballet at Barnard College.
- The Encyclopedia of Dance & Ballet (1977), Rainbird Reference Books Ltd.; ISBN 0-907408-63-X
- Profile, ballerinagallery.com; accessed November 10, 2014.
- Once a Dancer: An Autobiography © 1997, St. Martin's Press; ISBN 0-312-15051-2, 1st edition January 1997.
- Review of Allegra Kent in The Nutcracker, danceviewtimes.com (2003); accessed November 10, 2014.
- New York Times review of Ballerina Swan, nytimes.com, May 9, 2012; accessed November 11, 2014.
- Ballerina Swan by Allegra Kent, review, kirkusreviews.com; accessed November 11, 2014.
- "Allegra Kent on unusual casting", schoollibraryjournal.com; accessed November 11, 2014.
- Profile, Barnard College Dance Departmen, barnard.edu; accessed November 10, 2014.