Acclaimed Ballerina Julia Farron Dies at Age 96

Acclaimed Ballerina Julia Farron Dies at Age 96

Acclaimed ballerina, Julia Farron, has died on July 3 at the age of 96. Her death has been confirmed, but it is unknown where she passed, according to The New York Times.

Ms. Farron had a 40-year stage career, creating roles with choreographers such as Frederick Ashton, John Cranko, Robert Helpmann, Andrée Howard, Kenneth MacMillan, Léonide Massine and Ninette de Valois.

Most of Ms. Farron's career was spent at the Royal Ballet where she often danced solo or lead in world premieres of at least 14 scores by 12 composers: Benjamin Britten (Belle Épine in his three-act "The Prince of the Pagadoas"), Lord Berners ("A Wedding Bouquet"), Hans Werner Henze (Berta in his three-act "Ondine") and Michael Tippett (solo in his opera "The Midsummer Marriage").

After studying a variety of dance during her childhood, Ms. Farron attended the Vic-Wells Ballet School as one of the first two scholarship students. She joined the Vic-Wells Ballet, now known as the Royal Ballet, in 1936 on her 14th birthday. As the company's smallest and youngest dancer, she created the role of Pépé the Dog in Ashton's "A Wedding Bouquet."

The highlight of her career, Ms. Farron later said, came in 1946, when the Sadler's Wells Ballet (as Vic-Wells was known by then) moved to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - a haven after the war's vicissitudes.

In 1948 Ms. Farron married the South African dancer (and later choreographer) Alfred Rodrigues. She gave birth to their son, Christopher Rodrigues (chairman of the cultural organization the British Council), in 1949, during the Sadler's Wells Ballet's epoch-making debut season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

George Balanchine came to Covent Garden in 1950 to stage "Ballet Imperial," in which Ms. Farron led the corps onstage at the start of the third movement. She has said that this bit of dancing was her favorite in her entire career.

Ms. Farron initially retired from the stage in 1961, having been a professional dancer with the same company for 25 years, and having toured with it to the United States and Russia.

In addition to dancing, Ms. Farron took on another role at both the Royal Academy and the Royal Ballet School as an inspiring teacher, where she would go on to help shape the careers of many future ballerinas. Among the ballerinas were Leanne Benjamin, Bryony Brind, Fiona Chadwick and Alessandra Ferri.

In 1983, Ms. Farron was appointed as director of the Royal Academy of Dance, where she held the post until 1989. Based in London, the academy, founded in 1920, establishes standards for dance teaching from Canada to Australia.

In addition to her son, Mr. Rodrigues, Ms. Farron is survived by two grandchildren and a great-grandson. Alfred Rodrigues died in 2002.

Read more on The New York Times.

Photo: ROH Collections / Roger Wood

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