MARKOVA, ALICIA (1910–2004), British-born prima ballerina who joined Diaghilev's Les Ballets Russe in 1925 when she was just 15 years old. She was one of the famous "Baby Ballerinas" of the company. Her real name was Alice Lillian Marks, a name which, for Diaghilev, was not Russian or at least not French enough to appear in his company's programs. So without being asked, she was named Markova. Many years and famous roles later, she became – by order of Queen Elizabeth – Dame Alicia.
Markova created many of the central roles in the ballets of Balanchine, Ashton, and other contemporary choreographers. In 1931 she was back in her native London and joined the first professional ballet company in the U.K., the Ballet Rambert, founded and directed by another daughter of a Jewish family, one more dancer whose name was changed by Diaghilev because Miriam Rambam-Ramberg sounded too Jewish and not Russian enough and thus became Marie *Rambert. With this company Markova danced for many years as well as with the Vic-Wells Ballet, which later became The Royal Ballet.
Markova danced the leading roles in the classics as well as in new, contemporary works, such as Ashton's Façade, Tudor's Lysistrata, and De Valois' The Rake's Progress. She was the prima ballerina of the London Festival Ballet in the 1950s. She stopped dancing in 1962 and in the years 1963–69 Markova was the ballet director for the New York Metropolitan Opera Ballet.
ied, vol. 4, 267–71.
[Giora Manor (2nd ed.)]
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