Marquis George de Cuevas


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(orig. Marquis de Peidrablanca de Guana de Cuevas; b Santiago, 26 May 1885; d Cannes, 22 Feb. 1961)

Chilean-American patron and director of his own company, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. A passionate balletomane, he was married to Margaret Strong, granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, and it was her personal fortune that allowed de Cuevas to run his own company from his base in Paris. He founded his first company, Ballet International, in 1944. In 1947 he took over the Nouveau Ballet de Monte Carlo, renaming it first the Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo and then the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. In 1947 he hired Bronislava Nijinska as his ballet mistress. Unusually for a European company, his had a strong line-up of American dancers, among them Rosella Hightower, Marjorie Tallchief, William Dollar, and George Skibine. He also took ballets by US choreographers into the repertoire. His company toured exhaustively between 1947 and 1960. He hired some of the biggest names in dance, including Markova, Toumanova, Massine, Lichine, and Bruhn. The company continued briefly after his death, under the directorship of his nephew Raymundo de Larrain, but was dissolved in 1962. The Marquis was a flamboyant figure, much loved by the French public, and he was a frequent giver of elaborate balls. At one such event, the so-called ‘Ball of the Century’, he appeared dressed as the Sun King while his corps de ballet performed Act II of Swan Lake on a raft in the middle of a lake. His last production was The Sleeping Beauty, begun by Nijinska and finished by Robert Helpmann, and it was in this that Nureyev made his debut in the West after defecting from the Kirov in 1961.

Subjects: Dance.

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