Melissa Hayden


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(orig. Mildred Herman; b Toronto, 25 Apr. 1923; d Winston-Salem, NC, 9 Aug. 2006)

Canadian-US dancer and teacher. She studied with B. Volkov, Vilzak, and Schollar and made her debut in 1945 at Radio City Music Hall before joining Ballet Theatre the same year. After a season touring with the Alicia Alonso ballet in 1949 she joined New York City Ballet as a soloist in 1950, becoming principal in 1955 after a brief return to ABT (1953–4). She danced with NYCB until 1973, apart from guest engagements with the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada in 1963. A bravura dancer, renowned for her unusual stamina and insouciant wit, she created roles in many ballets including Robbins's Age of Anxiety (1950) and The Pied Piper (1951), Ashton's Illuminations (1950), Bolender's The Miraculous Mandarin (1951), and Balanchine's Caracole (1952), Divertimento No. 15 (1956), Agon (1957), Stars and Stripes (1958), Liebeslieder Walzer (1960), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1962), Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966) and Cortège hongrois, which was created for her as a farewell tribute in 1973. She also performed the ballerina role in Chaplin's film Limelight (1953). In 1973 she was appointed artist-in-residence at Skidmore College, New York; in 1974 she opened her own school in Saratoga, New York, and in 1976 was appointed artistic director of Pacific Northwest Dance in Seattle. In 1983 she joined the faculty of the North Carolina School of the Arts and coached dancers for the Balanchine Foundation's Interpreters Archive. She wrote Off Stage and On (New York, 1963) and Dancer to Dancer (Garden City, NY, 1981) and was awarded the Handel Medallion of the City of New York in 1973.

Subjects: Dance.

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