Happy birthday Margot Fonteyn!

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Margot Fonteyn (May 18, 1919 – February 21, 1991) was an English ballerina and the Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the Royal Ballet. Some of her most notable performances include Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Ondine, and Giselle.

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Fonteyn was born Margaret (Peggy) Evelyn Hookham to an English father and a half-Irish, half-Brazilian mother. She took up ballet lessons at the age of four. When she was eight years old, her parents moved the family to Shanghai, where they had found work in the tobacco industry. Fonteyn took lessons from a Russian instructor there, and by the time she was 14, she was good enough that her mother brought her back to London to pursue her ballet career.

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Fonteyn changed her name very early on, adapting parts of her mother's father's surname to form Fonteyn and changing Margaret to Margot.

In 1933, she began attending the Vic-Wells Ballet School (later the Royal Ballet School) and studied under Ninette de Valois, Olga Preobrajenska, and Mathilde Kschessinska. Through the next six years, she rose up through the company, performing in Giselle, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty and in 1939, was appointed Prima Ballerina.

The 1940s saw Fonteyn form a successful partnership with Robert Helpmann and another with Rudolf Nureyev. The extent of her relationship with Nureyev, 19 years her junior, was extraordinary. The two were unendingly loyal to each other throughout their lives, with Fonteyn always considering Nureyev's interests in professional decisions and Nureyev even paying some of Fonteyn's medical bills at the end of her life.

Fonteyn was made a dame in 1956.

As far as romantic relationships went, Fonteyn was in a relationship with composer Constant Lambert throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1955, she married Dr. Roberto Arias, a Panamanian diplomat in London. Arias was shot in 1964 in connection with an attempt of a coup d'etat against the Panamanian government and made a quadriplegic. The two retired to a farmhouse in Panama for the last part of both of their lives. (Image source)

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 18 May 2014
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