Nadia Nerina as Lise and David Blair as Colas in the Pas de Ruban from the premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton's La fille mal gardée, London, 1960
21 October 1927
Bloemfontein, South Africa
|Died||6 October 2008
Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
|Occupation||Ballet dancer; prima ballerina|
|Spouse(s)||Charles Gordon (m. 1956–2008)|
Nadia Nerina (21 October 1927 – 6 October 2008) was a South African ballerina. She moved to England and joined the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, where she became a prima ballerina at the age of 25. She was one of the first western dancers to appear with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow during the Cold War. She retired in 1969 and died in 2008 at her home in France.
Early years in South Africa
Nerina was born in Bloemfontein as Nadine Judd. She took her first dancing lessons on medical advice, on account of her weak feet. Her very first stage appearance was at the age of eight or nine, when she was carried on as Cio-Cio's baby in a local production of Madame Butterfly. Her family moved to Durban in 1939 and she began training with Eileen Keegan (who had danced with Anna Pavlova) and Dorothea McNair.
Career in England
In 1945, she began training under Marie Rambert at the Ballet Rambert. In 1946 she moved to the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1948 she danced the title role of the new production of Cinderella, taking over for Moira Shearer.
Nerina became a prima ballerina in 1952. In 1960, she appeared as a guest artist with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. She was hailed as a major star. Nureyev's defection in 1961, however, would somewhat disrupt her career.
She attended four Edinburgh festivals with the Royal Ballet, dancing in The Firebird (1952 and 1954), Birthday Offering (1956) and Petrushka (1960).
Nerina's leadership of the Royal Ballet
Family and later years
In 1969, Nerina and her husband, the banker Charles Gordon (who survived her) retired to France but she returned to Covent Garden in 1996 for the anniversary performance of Sleeping Beauty to mark the company's 50th anniversary in the theatre.
- Andrée Howard's Mardi gras (1946)
- Frederick Ashton's Cinderella (1948)
- Homage to the Queen (1953)
- Variations on a Theme by Purcell (1955)
- Birthday Offering (1956)
- La fille mal gardée (1960)
- Kenneth MacMillan's Noctambules' (1956)
- Robert Helpmann's Elektra (1963)
- Peter Darrell's Home (1965)
- Recollections of Nadia Nerina
- Encyclopædia Britannica Article on Nadia Nerina
- Ballet magazine (March 1998)
- Nadia Nerina at the Ballerina Gallery
- obituary from The Telegraph, "Technically brilliant leading ballerina with the Royal Ballet for whom Ashton created 'La Fille mal gardée'", 7 October 2008
- Obituary from the Washington Post, 9 October 2008
- Obituary from the NY Times, 10 October 2008