Margot Fonteyn: A Portrait

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Patricia Foy’s celebrated documentary of Britain’s greatest ballerina

Prior to the creation of this 1989 documentary, Margot Fonteyn had resolutely refused to appear in any biographical television program. It was Patricia Foy who managed to persuade Fonteyn to speak about her life history. This portrait, recorded a mere two years before Fonteyn’s death, remains the only personal testimony about her life and career available on film. The recordings, made at her house in Panama, include Fonteyn’s reminiscences about her first dancing lesson at the age of four, her reaction to a performance by Anna Pavlova, her relationship with Tito Arias, and the key milestones in her career.

The program also introduces the important professional relationships she formed with Ninette de Valois, Robert Helpmann, Frederick Ashton and Rudolf Nureyev, all of whom share their own recollections of meeting and working with Fonteyn. Archival footage includes Fonteyn and Helpmann dancing Giselle in 1937, Façade danced with Frederick Ashton, Pavlova in The Fairy Doll, and black & white excerpts from Sleeping Beauty and Ondine. Other material of interest is the amateur film shot by Fonteyn on the yacht of Aristotle Onassis, and footage of the retired ballerina performing ceremonial duties as Chancellor of Durham University.

This film has been repeatedly re-issued on DVD (most recently by Kultur) so please be aware that DVD cover designs may vary.

Keen to learn more about Fonteyn’s life? Vintage Pointe also recommends Tony Palmer’s documentary film, Margot. Together, these documentaries provide a complete survey of Fonteyn’s relationships, her amazing career, and the challenges she faced in life.

Region Code: 0
Format & Aspect Ratio: NTSC and PAL available, 4:3
Number of discs: 1
Run time: 90 minutes
Studio: Various including Kultur