Last of the red shoes is gone

We have been notified of the death of Elizabeth Christie, last survivor of the 1947 Powell-Pressburger ballet film, The Red Shoes.

She also appeared in their other hit, Tales of Hoffman.

A Londoner, Elizabeth was recruited by Ninette de Valois into the Sadlers Wells Company, which she hated, saying it was like the army.

She had a much happier time on the film set and with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo.


UPDATE: We are informed that Paula Dunning, another cast member, is alive and well in Montreal, aged 92.

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    • Agreed, Sue. Fictional elements aside, one of the few films that really gets what it is like to be in the creative, and recreative, arts.

      • With a collaboration of huge talents – from production design, music, ballet and acting – the film really captured the essence of the performing artist/s. That scene where one Vicki says she can’t remember a line as she’s about to go on stage and Lermentov believes in her, or the one where the production designed was trying to get “the door, the door” to work. All insights into the nerves and neuroses of the performance gig.

        And I thought Anton Walbrook was absolutely devastating in the part; incredible. “Does he KNOW what he’s asking?”. The way he plays that line with inflection and intonation on every word and completely without melodrama. The best!!!

          • One of my (many) favorite scenes is when Lermontov is telling Vicki how he has believed in her talent from the beginning, and for one or two seconds looks at her as a WOMAN, not just a dancer…and then catches himself and suppresses his feelings. A telling moment, and perfectly handled by the brilliant Walbrook.

            Also love the scene when Julian Craster is asked when they may have the new score for the “Red Shoes” ballet, and he casually hands to Lermontov & Co. his already-finished work. So satisfying…!

          • You may not be aware RANK cancelled this film because they felt it would be a money pit and would be a massive failure.

            E-P-C related this incident many times with a smile.

            It then incurred the ire of the unions representing the dancers, who told Rank in no uncertain terms the entire cast would sue them for breach of contract and would cost more than finishing the film.

            It was one occasion when the unions were responsible for the making of what has now become considered a masterpiece, especially after the recent restoration and re-release, which the surviving artists were never (and should have been paid again for….)

  • Last survivor of the G. Kirsta Grigrievs revival of ballet Russes which folded in 1952.

    Last of the great Cleo Nordi* pupils from legat with the inherent legendary elegance…

    “‘The development of the Russian method of dancing lay in the fact that we learnt from everybody, and adapted what we learnt to ourselves. What gave us inspiration, we applied our knowledge and stamp of Russian national genius and moulded it into the electric art of Russian Ballet.”

    “Leading dancers from all over the world would come to take class from Nicholai Legat, such as Anton Dolin, Michael Soames, Alan Carter, Anna Pavlova, Phyllis Bedells, Ninette de Valois, Cleo Nordi, Alicia Markova, Margot Fonteyn, Moira Shearer are just a few who were influenced by his teaching.”

    *Pavlova’s assistant.
    CLEO NORDI 1899 – 1983 FINLAND.

    MUST SEE:-

  • “THE RED SHOES,” Is One Of The Greatest Films Of All Time, AND The Best Ballet Drama For The Silver Screen. The British Were Very Sniffy About It; Then It Ran 7 Years Straight @ The Same NYC Theater. Martin Scorsese Rates It In His Top 5, If Not Two!!!

  • Meeta Piatkowski (nee Thomas) is still alive and well and living in Ty’n-y-Groes, north Wales. Age 93

    • Hi. Meeta taught me ballet in Northenden when I was young. I still have photos from the show we did. I am still in touch with another old pupil Susan Keene. Best wishes.

  • Meeta is in the photo behind and looking over Moira Shearer’s right shoulder. So behind and to the left as you look at the photo.

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