Max Reinhardt’s dance star has died, aged 102

When Reinhardt went to Hollywood in 1935 he cast around for someone to catch the eye in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and finally remembered a Danish dancer he had worked with in Berlin.

Nini Theilade was cast as Hermia, a Faerie.

In a cast the included Mickey Rooney and Olivia de Havilland, she stood out for gracious movement, eroticism and exotic good looks.

Raised in the Dutch East Indies, she appeared in two more films before joining the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in 1938 under the choreographer Leonide Massine.

She spent the war years in Brazil, raising two children, and returned to Denmark in the 1950s as a choreographer, dancer and sought-after teacher at her own academy on the island of Fünen.

Nini died on February 13 at a magnificent age.

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  • Unless I’m very much mistaken, Olivia de Havilland played Hermia in this film, her first. I do remember Ms. Theilade, though. I love that Reinhardt production. It’s so… dreamy.

  • Not to diminish Ms. Theilade’s contributions to dance, in the film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream it appears that she was cast as an attending fairy to Titania, not Hermia. Her performance included a scene (with lines) with Mickey Rooney. Regardless, she was part of that iconic production and went on to lead a very full artistic and personal life.

  • Nini Theilade’s performance in Midsummer still delights and amazes her audience. She was a force of nature, a true artist, someone to wish to be like. I am grateful for her artistic contributions to humanity and for the inspiration she still gives to me.

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