Alicia Markova, noted ballerina, dies

Dec. 3, 2004 at 1:00 PM
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BATH, England, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Alicia Markova, Britain's first great ballerina, has died. She was 94.

Markova, only one of a handful of artists acknowledged as "prima ballerina assoluta," died Thursday in a Bath hospital the day after her birthday, the Telegraph reported.

She is recognized as the ballerina on whom all British ballet was founded, and a significant in the resurgence of classical ballet in the United States.

Born into an Irish-Jewish family in north London, Markova began dancing because of her crooked legs, partly on a doctor's advice. At 10 she was billed in London as "the child Pavlova," and at 14 Sergei Diaghilev asked her to join his Monte Carlo-based company, then planning to appear in London.

By 19 she had joined and become the heart of what would become the Royal Ballet, Ballet Rambert and the English National Ballet.

Renowned worldwide as the greatest of Giselles and as a master technician, she set an athletic standard that recognized the need for superlative technique to create the illusions and poetic expression necessary for art.

Henri Matisse designed all-over leotards for her and the composer Igor Stravinsky found her able to absorb new musical ideas readily.

Markova never married.

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