Dancer Ivan Nagy dies at 70

Ivan Nagy, one of the great names in dance dur­ing the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, died in Bud­apest on 22 of February. He was 70-years-old.

Nagy was born on 28 April 1943 in Hun­gary. He trained first with his mother going on to per­form with the Bud­apest State Opera Bal­let. Fre­deric Frank­lin spot­ted the young man when Nagy won a sil­ver medal at the Inter­na­tional Bal­let Com­pet­i­tion at Varna in 1965. As dir­ector of the National Bal­let of Wash­ing­ton at the time, Frank­lin invited  Nagy to appear as a guest artist with the com­pany. He went on to per­form with the New York City Bal­let and became a prin­cipal dan­cer with the Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre in 1968.

He danced with all the great baller­inas of his day includ­ing Mar­got Fon­teyn and Carla Fracci, but it per­haps with Cyn­thia Gregory, Gel­sey Kirk­land and Nat­alia Makarova that he formed his most fam­ous part­ner­ships. Max Waldman’s iconic photo of Nagy and Markarova in Swan Lake is a fix­ture in dance shops every­where. He said that he was always “a little in love with my partners.”

He retired when he was just 35 in 1978. For Makarova it was “a great loss. Ivan is in top form; he is quit­ting too soon”. Nagy insisted it was the right decision: “I’ve peaked. I want to go out grace­fully. I always hoped I’d be smart enough to quit at the top. When you are young and supple, dan­cing is won­der­ful. When you’re older, you get rusty and it’s pain­ful. I admire Garbo for not let­ting people see her deteri­or­ate. I could never bear to watch myself going downhill “.

Many pre­dicted that there would be a comeback, but there never was. In the 60 days before his retire­ment gala with the Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre he per­formed 50 times. Retire­ment was not some­thing he regret­ted. In 1986 he said “I was smart, for once in my life. I left five minutes early, but that is still bet­ter than leav­ing five minutes too late. And not once in the seven years have I wanted to go back to per­form­ing. It was a miser­able love affair”.

With his wife, ex-London Fest­ival Bal­let baller­ina Mar­ilyn Burr, he re-staged many rep­er­toire bal­lets all over the world. He col­lab­or­ated with the Bal­let de San­ti­ago, becom­ing its dir­ector in 1982, and brought them to New York in 1986 for their Amer­ican début. He worked hard to whip the com­pany into shape. “I had to be a dic­tator. They call me ‘the dic­tator’ openly. Every day I went to the theatre, they wanted to dig my grave and push me in.” Dir­ect­ing the com­pany changed his view of dancers. Dan­cers are the most won­der­ful people. I real­ize that as a dir­ector. As a dan­cer, I felt dan­cers were narrow-minded. Now I’ve come to real­ize they are one of the best breeds of people. They are so dis­cip­lined. They may wish you to drop dead, but once you are in bad shape they stand behind you”.

He was also the Artistic Dir­ector of the Cincinnati/New Orleans Bal­let until until 1989. He was also dir­ector of the Eng­lish National Bal­let for a short period, and 15 years ago he retired to Mallorca.

He died in Bud­apest where he was work­ing with the Hun­garian Bal­let Company and is survived by wife, ex-dancer, Marilyn Burr.
Ivan Nagy and Marilyn Burr 500x356 Dancer Ivan Nagy dies at 70

Published by Antonio Laginha

Autoria e redação

António Laginha, editor e autor da maioria dos textos da RD, escreve como aprendeu antes do pretenso Acordo Ortográfico de 1990, o qual não foi ratificado por todos os países de língua portuguesa.

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