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Algeranoff, Harcourt [real name Harcourt Algernon Leighton Essex] (1903–1967), dancer and ballet master, was born in London on 18 April 1903, the son of Thomas Richard Essex, a sculptor, and his wife, Alice Kendall. He was named Harcourt Algernon Leighton Essex. He dropped his original name and assumed that of ...

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Benesh [née Rothwell], Joan Dorothy (1920–2014), ballet dancer and choreologist, was born on 26 March 1920 at 14 Menlove Avenue, Wavertree, Liverpool, the only daughter and elder child of Reginald Edward Rothwell (1893–1950), army officer and engineer, and his wife ...

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Svetlana Beriosova (1932–1998) by Baron, 1954 [ and Michael Somes (1917-1994), in Rinaldo and Armida] Corbis

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Beriosova, Svetlana (1932–1998), ballet dancer, was born on 24 September 1932 at Kaunas, Lithuania, the daughter of Nicholas Beriozoff (1906–1996), dancer and ballet master, then a member of the Lithuanian State Ballet, and his first wife, Maria (d. 1941). Her grandparents had migrated to ...

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Blair, David [real name David Butterfield] (1932–1976), ballet dancer, was born David Butterfield on 27 July 1932 at the Royal Halifax Infirmary, Halifax, Yorkshire, the elder child and only son of John Butterfield, moquette weaver, and his wife, Zetté Carolyne Elizabeth Whiteley...

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Brae, June [real name June Telfer Bear] (1917–2000), ballet dancer, was born at St Ives, Ringwood, Hampshire, on 17 May 1917, the daughter of John McMillan Bear, a civil engineer, and his wife, May Alfreda Byerley. She travelled as a child to ...

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Brind, Bryony Jane Susan St John (1960–2015), ballet dancer, was born on 27 May 1960 at the Royal Marine Barracks, Stonehouse, Plymouth, the daughter of Roger Michael Atchley Brind (b. 1934), a lieutenant, then major, in the Royal Marines, and his wife ...

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Joseph Knight

revised by Nilanjana Banerji

Byrne, Oscar (bap. 1796, d. 1867), ballet master, named Byrn but known as Byrne, was baptized at St Andrew's, Holborn, London, on 16 January 1796, the son of James Byrne (1756–1844), an actor and ballet master, and his wife, Lucy (d. 1845)...

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John Cyril Cranko (1927–1973) by Sir Cecil Beaton, 1956 © Cecil Beaton Archive, Sotheby's; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cranko, John Cyril (1927–1973), ballet dancer and choreographer, was born on 15 August 1927 in Rustenburg, about 60 miles from Johannesburg, South Africa, the only child of Herbert Cranko, a lawyer who later went on to practise in Johannesburg itself, and his wife, ...

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Dolin, Sir Anton [real name Sydney Francis Patrick Chippindall Healey Kay] (1904–1983), ballet dancer, was born in Slinfold, Sussex, on 27 July 1904, the second of three sons (there were no daughters) of Henry George Kay, amateur cricketer, and later master and owner of the ...

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Sir Anton Dolin (1904–1983) by Gordon Anthony, 1935 [in David by the Markova–Dolin Ballet] V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919–1991) by Alan Bergman, 1972 [on the opening night of Raymonda by Marius Petipa at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York] © Alan Bergman from the Alan Bergman archives; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Fonteyn, Dame Margot [real name Margaret Evelyn Hookham; married name Margaret Evelyn de Arias] (1919–1991), ballet dancer, was born on 18 May 1919 at 49 London Road, Reigate, Surrey, the younger child and only daughter of Felix John Hookham (b. 1889)...

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Franca, Celia [real name Nita Celia Franks] (1921–2007), ballet dancer, choreographer, and ballet director, was born on 25 June 1921 at 57 Nicholas Street, Mile End, London, the daughter of Solomon Franks, boot salesman, later ladies' outfitter, and his wife, Gertie, née...

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Celia Franca (1921–2007) by Janine, 1960 courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada archives

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Fraser, Moyra (1923–2009), ballerina and actress, was born on 3 December 1923 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, the younger daughter and youngest of three children of John Newton Mappin Fraser (1890–1959), company director of the jewellers Mappin and Webb (and the last family member to be chairman of the business), and his wife, ...

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Moyra Fraser (1923–2009) by unknown photographer, 1949 © Daily Mail / Rex Features

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Gardner [married name Dyson], Maureen Angela Jane (1928–1974), athlete and ballet teacher, was born at 88 Chilswell Road, Oxford, on 12 November 1928, the only daughter and elder of two children of Fred Gardner (1888–1959), a police constable, and his second wife, ...

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Maureen Angela Jane Gardner (1928–1974) by unknown photographer, 1948 © Getty Images