Posts by Hila Shachar

  • The fascinating Margit Wolf
    Margit Wolf
  • The fascinating Margit Wolf
    Pasquale Frutaci

The fascinating Margit Wolf

In 1938, the Italian conductor and composer Pasquale Frustaci wrote a beautiful song for his ballerina wife. But this is no simple tale of romance. World War II was still a year away, but Frustaci’s family was already experiencing the tragedy that would eventually envelope Europe. Separated from his wife and son, he was compelled to write a song that would have a history as heartbreaking and fascinating as Margit Wolf, the woman who inspired it. (more…)

10 January 2014

Rings on her fingers and pointes on her toes

Rings on her fingers and pointes on her toes

Hila Shachar matches ballet heroines with beautiful bling

Hands are one of the most expressive parts of a dancer’s body, sending messages to the audience about the story and characters. Some of ballet’s most famous heroines are here explored through their hands and what one imagines would best grace them – an imaginary exercise of pure indulgence! Here’s a compilation of ballet rings for our leading ladies.

Odette from Swan Lake -  Wave Ring by Elizabeth Knight
The most fitting ring to adorn the graceful figure of Odette is one that resembles a deep blue lake encased by a gentle, wave-like band. The watery brilliance of this ring speaks of both the tears of sorrow that formed Odette’s magical lake, and the eternal nature of her love.

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23 December 2013

  • Very supersitious
    Photographer Denis Olivier
  • Very supersitious
    Photographer hnt6581

Very supersitious

Ballet ghosts, theatre cats and flowers stolen from graveyards – happy Friday the 13th!

If you’ve ever worked in a theatre, you’d know that you don’t ever speak the word “Macbeth” to an actor. The Macbeth curse has become a legendary superstition, with creepy stories of accidents and bad luck.

The dance world has its own scary myths. Take the Palace Theatre in London, which is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two ballerinas. The Palace, which opened in 1891, is a favourite among followers of the paranormal, some of whom fervently believe that Anna Pavlova is one the ghostly figures who haunts it. A ballerina resembling her is said to appear frequently on the theatre’s stage. It seems fitting: Pavlova was extremely superstitious. She refused to look at images of herself on posters and stubbornly insisted on using separate entrances into theatres to dodge the bad luck that may have been waiting for her. (more…)

13 December 2013

Styling Manon

Styling Manon

Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon depicts the lives of libertines and the demi-monde, a group of people typified by the extravagant and at times amoral behaviour found in books like Dangerous Liaisons, where young women are routinely seduced as a game and life consists of countless affairs, drinking and gambling. Such behaviour was of course linked with the wealthy ruling class of 18th-century France. (more…)

4 December 2013

Cinderella’s many faces
Cinderella. Arthur Rackham

Cinderella’s many faces

Hila Shachar delves into the world’s many Cinderella myths.

There are very few countries around the world that don’t have their own Cinderella story: it’s believed that there are over a thousand different variations. We can trace her character all the way back to ancient Egyptian and Greek myths. The Egyptian tale Rhodopis was first recorded in the first century BC and tells the story of a slave girl who is freed and becomes a courtesan. One day, she decides to bathe in the Nile River, and carefully removes her gilded sandals. But one of her sandals is stolen by an eagle and lands in the hands of the king of Egypt. The king wonders what kind of woman is slender enough to wear such a delicate sandal and immediately begins to search his kingdom for her, with every woman in the land trying on the shoe. Eventually, he finds his maiden, and together they rule over Egypt. (more…)

18 September 2013

  • Styling La Sylphide
    Madeleine Eastoe as the Sylphide. Image: 3 Deep with Georges Antoni
  • Styling La Sylphide
  • Styling La Sylphide

Styling La Sylphide

August Bournonville’s La Sylphide is one of the oldest Romantic ballets performed today. With its fairy-tale story of a young Scotsman, James, who falls in love with a woodland sylph, it personifies the Romantic era, which was one of immense change and major revolutions. It was also a period of great artistic revival, as Romantic artists turned their backs on familiar classical influences in favour of more contemporary original themes. Gothic and supernatural stories flourished, with authors such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats becoming fascinated with the exotic, unknown and irrational. The Romantics also turned to nature and imaginative fairy tales for inspiration. La Sylphide was born from this Romantic fascination with nature, the irrational mind, spontaneous feelings and imaginative tales.

But more than simply being the product of revolutionary times, La Sylphide also helped revolutionise ballet. It popularised dancing en pointe and launched the cult of the ballerina in her most familiar guise as the ethereal, otherworldly and delicate figure. One of the most famous and idolised ballerinas of this period was Marie Taglioni (1804-1884), whose look in La Sylphide became the defining style of the Romantic ballerina. (more…)

17 July 2013