Friday, February 03, 2006

Moira Shearer, Inspiration To Millions Of Dancers, Dead At 80 Years

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The movie, "The Red Shoes", was made before I was born but I and many other dancers were inspired by it. Not the bizarre, tragic storyline but by the ballet in the middle of the movie. It was beautiful. And Moira was amazing. Elegant, even severe, she elevated the movie far beyond what it could have flown. Yet, she denounced her own popularity, fearful of her own fame.

From the Washington Post:Courtesy of Hectate:
Moira Shearer, 80, the flame-haired ballerina-turned-actress who became an international star in "The Red Shoes," a poetic and sensual film that inspired generations of young dancers, died Jan. 31 at a hospital in Oxford, England. No cause of death was reported.

Using Technicolor photography, "The Red Shoes" (1948) was one of the most stunning films of its vintage, and its entrancing, porcelain-skinned heroine was credited with almost single-handedly popularizing ballet for millions. However, in later years she disparaged the film and its cost to her own ballet career, saying, "Isn't it strange that something you've never really wanted to do turns out to be the very thing that's given you a name and identity?"
She didn't enjoy her own popularity which is very sad since we didn't admire the hokey parts of the movie, we were all discerning enough to see past it to the glimpses of what dance is really all about.

The scene where she climbs the overgrown staircase, all dressed up for what she though would be a formal dinner engagement, the haunting music filtering through the thick forest, light dappling on her full skirts which she held in one hand, stepping higher and higher until she enters the salon....and everyone is in shirtsleeves, on the floor, arguing about stage effects.

A lovely metaphor.

And the central dance. Her early joy when donning the red shoes, gleefully dancing expertly about, and then slowly, scene after scene, wearing out, the carnival swirling around her, she, helpless, then closes shop and the arcade is deserted except for her, worn out, dancing, a man dressed in old newspapers dances with her and then slips away to be revealed as newspapers, swept by night winds, clutching her legs which tremble with the need to keep dancing.

Moira has nothing to be ashamed, not this! I have gone to more than my share of boring dances, and even today, this one doesn't bore me at all.

May Moira dance forever.
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