news at at 24 September

the best laid plans of mice and men

Well, the best laid plans of mice & men… and in this case a book. My  “perfectionist tendency” (my wife’s description) led me to add certain information into the already somewhat large Appendices section of  my book, which in turn affected the page numbering and in turn part of the Index. This has meant a delay to the final proof reading.  The official publication date is now 28 November, but it might be ready earlier. There won’t be an embargo, so I’ll let you know ….

This month Egon Madsen, one of the four principal dancers Cranko particularly loved to work with in Stuttgart (the other three being Marcia Haydee, Richard Cragun & Birgit Keil ) celebrates his 80th birthday.  You can watch a fine short film in tribute to his long (and continuing!) career on YouTube here:   

Do watch this ! It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand German – Egon is a great artist!

Marcia Haydée, Cranko’s prima ballerina is world famous for creating many roles (unforgettably) in Cranko’s works in Stuttgart, and was also the most important continuing influence to Cranko’s ballet legacy long after his death. However, little is spoken now of Cranko’s very first muse, Patricia Miller. You will read about her in my book, but here are a few facts about her life:
Patricia Millar was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1927.  Like Cranko, she received much of her ballet training from Dulcie Howes & Cecily Robinson at the University of Cape Town Ballet School. She went to London in 1947 to join the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School and – again like Cranko – after a short time joined the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet. It was for this company that Cranko choreographed his first ballets in England and Patricia Miller created a number of roles in these works –  Beauty in Beauty & the Beast;  Mademoiselle Piquant in Children’s Corner;  Phillida in Pastorale;  Columbine in Harlequin in April;  a Lover in Reflection; and the Lady in The Lady & the Fool.  

She was a finely built, delicate dancer with a close to perfect “ballet physique”; lovely but strong feet; classic line and poised head. Patricia danced many principal roles from the classic repertoire and toured with SWBT to the USA, Canada, Rhodesia (as it was then) and South Africa.  She went on to dance in various parts of South Africa and after retiring in 1973 became joint Artistic Director (with her husband, Dudley Davies) of Napac Ballet in Durban until that company closed in 1976. She and Dudley had four children.  

During my research for the book I spoke to Patricia a few times on the phone (she was living in the US) and she wrote to me. Unfortunately she died a few months after our conversations.       She seemed a delightful person and I wish I could show her my completed book of the man she so inspired at the beginning of his career.  Here is a beautiful portrait of Patricia Millar taken by the famous London  photographer Baron in the 1950’s. She is in costume for the role of Columbine, which she created in Cranko’s Harlequin in April (More about this important ballet in another Blog)

That’s all for now. All good wishes, Ashley