Last of the red shoes is gone

Last of the red shoes is gone


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2018

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.


  • Sue says:

    What a magnificent film this is!! One of the very best ever from Britain. Inspired.

    • The View from America says:


    • Adam Stern says:

      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.

      • Sue says:

        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!!!

        • Sue says:

          typo: Of course, it was Vicki’s steps in the ballet she was trying to remember. Not words! Doah.

          • Adam Stern says:

            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…!

          • tomas says:

            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….)

    • Michael Comins says:


  • tomas says:

    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:-

  • Pamela Brown says:

    Love this movie. It inspired me as a young person. I have even named a character in my own saga “Lermontov” after the evil ballet master…

  • Sean Andrew Heaney says:

    “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!!!

  • tomas says:

    Curious to know if Paula Dunning was also in Tales of Hoffmann, the film that Powell and Pressburger made in 1951, which E P Christie was also in.

    That used the luxurious Royal Phil under Sir Thomas Beecham, with Massine and Shearer again.

    It was restored and re-released in 2015.

  • Steve Piatkowski says:

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

    • Judy Marsden says:

      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.

  • Steve Piatkowski says:

    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.