CULTURE

Curtain falls on Moira Shearer, who brought ballet to a wider public

London has bid farewell to Moira Shearer, the ballerina with the fiery red hair and the complexion of a porcelain doll. As the star of the film «The Red Shoes,» she made the magical but then-remote world of ballet accessible to a wider public, particularly to young people. The role brought her fame and recognition. Shearer joined Sadler’s Wells ballet school at the age of 14. She studied with Nicholas Legat and later with his widow, Nadine Nicolayeva. Shearer – Moira Shearer King – went to school in Dola, in what was then called Northern Rhodesia, and Bearsden Academy in England. Her family said she learned to dance before she even learned to walk. Her career took off quickly, helped by her great beauty, which made her a remarkable stage presence. Her performance in «The Red Shoes,» the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, was unforgettable. Other successes included her performance of Princess Aurora in «The Sleeping Beauty» and Cinderella in Frederick Ashton’s choreography of Prokoviev’s ballet. As Mary Clarke noted in her obituary in The Guardian on Thursday, Shearer soon left full-time dancing. Not long after her marriage to Ludovic Kennedy and the birth of their first child, she embarked on a career as an actress. Among her many roles in the theater was Titania in the Old Vic’s production of «A Midsummer Night’s Dream» for the Edinburgh Festival in 1954, and Madame Ranevskaya in «The Cherry Orchard» at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh in 1977. In 1987 she went back to the ballet, dancing the part of the mother in Gillian Lynne’s «A Simple Man» for BBC television. In later life Shearer gave lectures on ballet history with Diaghilev, gave recitals, reviewed books and wrote a biography of Ellen Terry. She died shortly before her 80th birthday, leaving her husband, three daughters and a son.