2 3 Throwback Thursday and John Cranko | Ballet Webb

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday and John Cranko

Throwback Thursday and John Cranko

John Cranko was born in South Africa on August 15, 1927.  He received his dance training at the University of Cape Town, and it was here that he choreographed his first ballet, Suite from The Soldier’s Tale to music by Stravinsky.

In 1946 he studied at Sadler’s Wells School in London, and soon became a member of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (that became the Royal Ballet).  Before long he was resident choreographer and began creating ballets that included:  Pineapple Poll (1951) and Beauty and the Beast (1949).  He went on to choreograph for Ballet Rambert and the Paris Opera Ballet.  But when he traveled to Stuttgart to restage his ballet The Prince and the Pagodas, he reached a turning point in his career.

In 1961 he became director of the Stuttgart Ballet and began transforming it into an internationally recognized company.  One of the dancers, Marcia Haydée, became his muse and he created many works for her and for Richard Cragun, her frequent partner.  Cranko became known for his dramatic story ballets such as Taming of the Shrew; and for his ability to choreograph brilliant pas de deuxs.  He also encouraged dancers in his company to choreograph.

Sadly, John Cranko died at age 45 on June 26, 1973.  He was returning from a successful tour of the United States, and he died from an allergic reaction to a sleeping pill.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Secret #49:  
John Cranko was director of the Stuttgart Ballet, who did early works for Sadler’s Wells Ballet.

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Quote of the Day:
““The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours”
Alan Bennett, The History Boys: The Film

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