Monday, October 4, 2010

Scottish Ballet Dancer: Moira Shearer

Moira Shearer,was born Moira Shearer King in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, the daughter of actor Harold V. King. In 1931 her family moved to Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, where she received her first dancing lessons under a former pupil of Enrico Cecchetti. She returned to the United Kingdom in 1936 and trained with Flora Fairbairn in London for a few months before she was accepted as a pupil by the Russian teacher Nicholas Legat. After three years with Legat, she joined the Sadler's Wells Ballet School. She made her debut with Mona Inglesby's International Ballet in 1941 before moving on to Sadler's Wells in 1942.

She came to international attention for her first film role as Victoria Page in the film, The Red Shoes(1948). The film was so powerful that she went on to star in other films and worked as a dancer for many years

Shearer retired from ballet in 1953, but she continued to act, performing in, A Midsummer Night's Dream at the 1954 Edinburgh Festival. She worked again for Powell on the controversial film Peeping Tom (1960).

In 1972, she was chosen by the BBC to present the Eurovision Song Contest when it was staged at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. She also wrote for The Daily Telegraph newspaper and gave talks on ballet worldwide.

Moira Shearer List of Films:

The Red Shoes (1948). A British feature film about ballet, written, directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The movie is a story within a story, being about a young ballerina who joins an established ballet company and becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called The Red Shoes, based on the fairy tale, "The Red Shoes" by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), received two Academy Award nominations in 1952, both for Hein Heckroth, for "Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color" and "Best Costume Design, Color.Powell and Pressburger were nominated for the Grand Prize of the 1952 Cannes Film Festival,and won the Exceptional Prize. They also won the Silver Bear award for "Best Musical" at the 1st Berlin International Film Festival.

The Story of Three Loves (1953.)Romantic film made by MGM. It combines three loosely-linked stories, "The Jealous Lover", "Mademoiselle", and "Equilibrium". The film was produced by Sidney Franklin. "Mademoiselle" was directed by Vincente Minnelli, while Gottfried Reinhardt directed the other two segments. The screenplays were written by John Collier ("The Jealous Lover", "Equilibrium"), Jan Lustig ("Equilibrium", "Mademoiselle"), and George Froeschel ("Equilibrium", "Mademoiselle").

"The Jealous Lover" stars Moira Shearer and James Mason; "Mademoiselle" features Leslie Caron, Farley Granger, Ethel Barrymore, and Ricky Nelson; Pier Angeli and Kirk Douglas headline "Equilibrium".

The music score is by Miklós Rózsa. The soundtrack featured the 18th Variation from Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, performed by the pianist Jakob Gimpel for "The Jealous Lover".

Other Moira Shearer films:
The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955)
1-2-3-4 ou Les Collants noirs (Black Tights) (1960)
Peeping Tom (1960)
A Simple Man (1987) (TV)

Personal Quote:
Isn't it strange that something you've never really wanted to do turns out to be the very thing that's given you a name and identity?...The Red Shoes ruined my career in the ballet. They (her peers) never trusted me again.

Fun Fact:
Fred Astaire wanted Moira to perform with him in the film, Royal Wedding (1951)and Gene Kelly asked for her for his movie, Brigadoon (1954), but she turned them both down, preferring the classical stage. She went on to play Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in her Broadway debut and the title role in "Major Barbara".

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