BALLET : ENGLISH AND RUSSIAN
SIR, With reference to the letter I wrote about "The Sleeping Beauty," it has since been brought to my notice that Mr. Michael Somers was suffering from an injury at the time I saw him dance. Consequently I wish to apologise for the remark I made about his performance. In the circumstances this has a horribly spiteful air. My only excuse is that I had no means of knowing it at the time.—Youri sincerely,
Morwenstowe, Fleet, Hampshire. ilUS MORLEY.
SIR,—I saw Daghilev's company, and more recently have seen some 35o performances in the U.S.A. of Ballet Theatre and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I am ready to agree with Mr. Redfern as to the " all- round excellence " of the current Sadler's Wells " Sleeping Beauty " and with Iris Morley that the male dancing was "bad' (though, considering the inroads made by war service on dance man-power, I reject her "inexcusably bad"). In the ,U.S.A. you can today see Markova, Tou- manova, Baronova, Danilova, RiAbouchinska and others. These dancers are in a higher class than anyone in Sadler's Wells with the exception of Margot Fonteyn. They work, however, under such conditions of fatigue from touring with no permanent home, and the commercial influences over ballet are so strong. that America's enormous dancing talent is being squandered so fast that one sees a greater future for ballet in England, where Sadler's Wells works under ideal conditions.
Space lacks for a balanced discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of ballet in Britain and America. Suffice it to say that no American company could put on a complete " Sleeping Princess " that could com- pete with Sadler's Wells in " all-round excellence." One may agree with Iris Morley that Sadler's Wells has room for great improvement ; but, when she compares their efforts to those of a village tenor competing with Caruso, she undermines confidence in her critical judgement. Admitting male weakness, admitting room for devilopment, one cannot agree that May, Shearer, Gray and others are untrained " village tenors." They are trained " singers" who give great delight to those ready to accept their style, which differs from that of the American' Russians and doubtless from that of the Soviets. I wonder how Iris Morley can be so sure that the current Soviet " Sleeping Princess " retains Petipa's original choreography. I recall Iris Morley's charm and beauty as definitely of this century.—Yours sincerely, JOSSLEYN HENNESSY. St. James's Club, Piccadilly, W. z.