David Blair

(1932—1976) ballet dancer

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(orig. Butterfield; b Halifax, 27 Jul. 1932; d London, 1 Apr. 1976)

British dancer and ballet master. After training at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School, he joined Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet in 1947, and was promoted to soloist with Sadler's Wells Ballet at Covent Garden (the Royal Ballet) in 1953 and principal in 1955. He created roles in Cranko's Pineapple Poll (1951), Harlequin in April (1951), Prince of the Pagodas (title role, 1957), and Antigone (1959); Ashton's La Fille mal gardée (1960); and MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio, 1965). After the retirement of Michael Somes in 1961 Blair became Fonteyn's regular partner until Nureyev's arrival in the company. A brilliant, versatile dancer, he was particularly admired in demi-caractère roles, which showcased his flair for comedy. He was the first Colas, in Ashton's La Fille mal gardée, and it was in this role that he gave his farewell performance at Covent Garden in 1973. He was also a fine classical dancer, and staged productions of the classics in America: Swan Lake (1965) and Sleeping Beauty (1966) for the Atlanta Civic Ballet; Swan Lake (1967) and Giselle (1968) for American Ballet Theatre. After retiring he became a freelance teacher and coach. In 1976 he was appointed artistic director of Norwegian National Ballet but died of a heart attack, aged 43, before taking up the post.

Subjects: Dance.

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