B1556. ALICIA MARKOVA. Giselle and I [Autobiography], with a foreword by Carl Van Vechten. New York, Vanguard, 1960. 199pp. Index; Photos; DJ.
“Dame Alicia Markova was an English ballerina and a choreographer, director and teacher of classical ballet. Most noted for her career with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and touring internationally, she was widely considered to be one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of the 20th century. She was the first British dancer to become the principal dancer of a ballet company and, with Dame Margot Fonteyn, is one of only two English dancers to be recognised as a prima ballerina assoluta. She was a founder dancer of the Rambert Dance Company, The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and was co-founder and director of the English National Ballet.
At the age of 13, Markova was observed in class by Diaghilev, who was visiting London in search of new talent for his ballet company. He invited her to join the Ballets Russes in Monte Carlo, which she did in 1925, one month after her 14th birthday. Alongside the many notable dancers, during this period she encountered a number of leading 20th century figures who created work for the company including the artists Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, composers including Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev and a number of leading choreographers including Léonide Massine, George Balanchine, and Bronislava Nijinska.
It was after seeing the Camargo Society performance of GISELLE with Olga Spessivtseva and Dolin in 1932 that Markova first realized the possibilities of the then-neglected ballet. In time it became her most treasured rôle and the one whose expressive possibilities she continued to develop throughout her career. Her première in the rôle was on New Year's Day 1934 at the Vic.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron