( b. Jan 08, 1916 New York, New York, USA - d. Nov 04, 2011 Mansfield, Massachusetts, USA ) Female
Annabelle Lyon, an American ballerina who danced with some of the most important companies in the formative years of 20th-century American ballet, died at her home in Mansfield, Mass. She was 95.
Her death was confirmed by her son, Joshua Borah.
Ms. Lyon joined the American Ballet, George Balanchine’s first American company, in 1935 and also appeared with Ballet Caravan, a troupe organized by Lincoln Kirstein in 1936 to promote American choreography.
In 1939 she became a charter member of Ballet Theater (now American Ballet Theater). On Jan. 12, 1940, partnered by Anton Dolin, she was the first ballerina in that company to dance the title role of “Giselle.”
Comparing Ms. Lyon with other interpreters of the part in her “Borzoi Book of Ballets” (1946), the dance historian Grace Robert declared that in Ms. Lyon’s portrayal of a peasant girl betrayed by a perfidious aristocrat in Act I, she was “ideal,” achieving “a pathos not excelled by any other performer of the role in New York.”
The daughter of Russian immigrants, Ms. Lyon was born in New York on Jan. 8, 1916, but her father, Max Lyon, who ran a chain of grocery stores in the South, moved the family to Memphis, where she grew up and took her first ballet lessons. Showing talent, she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious New York school of the choreographer and teacher Michel Fokine, living with relatives in Brooklyn while commuting to Fokine’s studio on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.
Ms. Lyon scored her greatest successes with Ballet Theater, where her repertory encompassed both classical and contemporary works, ranging from “Giselle” to major modern ballets by Antony Tudor and Agnes de Mille.
As the Lustful One in “Three Virgins and a Devil” (1941), de Mille’s comedy about a Devil’s attempt to lure three hypocritical maidens, Ms. Lyon displayed a sly wit. In total contrast was her portrayal in “Pillar of Fire” (1942), Tudor’s dance drama about a repressed young woman; cast as the heroine’s seemingly innocent youngest sister, she revealed a vein of maliciousness beneath her blithe exterior.
After leaving Ballet Theater in 1943, Ms. Lyon danced on Broadway from 1945 to 1947 in Carousel, choreographed by de Mille. She later appeared as guest artist with Ballet Theater and on Broadway in 1959 in Juno, also choreographed by de Mille.
Source: The New York Times