Today in Ballet History: A Legend Was Born

Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake (Dance Magazine Archives)

On this day in 1919, a tiny Margaret Hookham was born in Reigate, England. Today, however, we know her as Dame Margot Fonteyn. Or Royal Ballet Prima Ballerina Assoluta Margot Fonteyn. Or simply one of the most timeless, most elegant, most famous ballerinas of the 20th Century.

Fonteyn first joined the Royal Ballet (then known as the Vic-Wells Ballet) in 1935, and by 1939, she was performing principal roles. She's perhaps most known for her partnership with Rudolf Nureyev, though their first performance wasn't until 1962, toward the end of Fonteyn's illustrious 40-year career.

Fonteyn died in 1991, but her legacy continues through the many ballets created on her (including the title role in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella) and, of course, on YouTube. There aren't a ton of videos to get lost in, but a few clips are must-sees for any dancer.

Start with an excerpt of Fonteyn and Nureyev in Swan Lake:

Then watch the famous duo in a Le Corsaire pas de deux:

And finally, feast your eyes on Fonteyn and Nureyev in Les Sylphides:

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Photo by Jayme Thornton

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The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


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