Nadia Nerina

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Nadia Nerina
Fille Mal Gardee -Royal -Nerina & Blair -2.JPG
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
Born Nadine Judd
(1927-10-21)21 October 1927
Bloemfontein, South Africa
Died 6 October 2008(2008-10-06) (aged 80)
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[edit]

Nerina was born in Bloemfontein as Nadine Judd. She took her first dancing lessons on medical advice, on account of her weak feet.[1] 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.[2] Her family moved to Durban in 1939 and she began training with Eileen Keegan (who had danced with Anna Pavlova) and Dorothea McNair.[2]

Career in England[edit]

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[edit]

The Royal Ballet company would be later led by Nerina and Margot Fonteyn. Its alumnae include Lynn Seymour, Antoinette Sibley and Deanne Bergsma.[3]

Family and later years[edit]

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.

Roles created[edit]


  1. ^ Kanter, K.L. (May 2005). "Recollections of Nadia Nerina". A Society of the Advancement of the Ideas of Auguste Vestris. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Clarke, Mary (8 October 2008). "Obituary: Nadia Nerina". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  3. ^ Obituary in The Scotsman

External links[edit]