Mary Skeaping


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(b Woodford, 15 Dec. 1902; d London, 9 Feb. 1984)

British dancer, choreographer, ballet director, and international authority on early ballets. She studied with some of the great teachers of the period, including Massine, Astafieva, Egorova, and Craske and danced with Pavlova's company (1925 and 1930–1) and with the Nemchinova-Dolin company (c.1927–30). She also appeared in cabaret, music hall, and experimental theatre productions as well as dancing occasionally for Ballet Club. Between 1948 and 1951 she was ballet mistress of Sadler's Wells Ballet and she directed the first live full-length classic for the BBC, Sleeping Beauty (1951). She worked as guest ballet mistress and producer of ballets for various companies in Cuba and Canada (1952–4), after which she was appointed director of the Royal Swedish Ballet (1953–62) where she not only produced the standard 19th-century classics but revived historic Swedish court ballets (often in collaboration with Ivo Cramér), including Cupid Out of his Humour (mus. Purcell, Drottningholm Court Theatre, 1956). She became an authority on the 17th-century ballet de cour and published many articles. She mounted several early ballets for the Royal Ballet's Ballet for All group and after researching into the 1841 Giselle she mounted a production for London Festival Ballet (1971) which was widely praised for capturing the original's Romantic style and content. She was also a freelance producer of the classics in Finland and the USA. She was awarded the King's Own Medal, Sweden, in 1980.

Subjects: Dance.

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