Nadia Nerina

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Nadia Nerina, real name Nadine Judd. (21 October 1927 – 6 October 2008) "one of the most gifted, versatile, and inspiring ballerinas of The Royal Ballet during the 1950s and 1960s", was born in South Africa.


Although Nadia Nerina was born in Cape Town, she grew up in Durban where she began dancing at the age of nine.

The main part of her training was in Durban as a pupil of Eileen Keegan and Dorothy McNair.

She was awarded a bursary in the 1944 Speech and Drama Festival at Durban, but before that, she won many other dance honours, including gold medals and shields.

Apart from studying ballet, she also undertook courses in Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Spanish dancing.

Also in 1944, she undertook a 12-week ballet tour of South Africa as one of the principal dancers for African Consolidated Theatres.

In 1945 she travelled to England in order to further her dancing career and early in 1946 she studied with Madame Rambert and Miss Elsa Brunelleschi.

She was accepted at the Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet Company and within a year completed two tours with the Company, steadily adding to her collection of character roles.

As the best student of the 'junior' company, she was sent to Covent Garden to study where she landed a small standing part as a nursemaid in Sleeping Beauty, with Margot Fonteyn dancing the ballerina role.

During the 1947 Christmas season, she danced the Sugar Plum Fairy in Casse Noisette with Sadler's Wells.

Nadia travelled to Paris for a six weeks holiday during which she took advantage of the opportunity to study with Madame Preobrajenska, and, as she said, fulfilling "every ballet dancer's dream - to become a pupil of this great teacher."

Six years after watching Margot Fonteyn in Sleeping Beauty, Nadia had achieved her own greatness as a dancer and, on Covent Garden's stage, she danced the same part which Fonteyn had danced.

When Nadia Nerina finally joined Sadler's Wells Company at Covent Garden, she danced first lead with another South African born dancer, Alexis Rassine, in Les Sylphides- which she considered her favourite part for many years.

On April 25, 1949, the Queen and Princess Margaret attended a performance in aid of Sadler s Wells Ballet Benevolent Fund and saw a full-length performance of Cinderell.

Nadia Nerina was one of the principal dancers and appeared in the Spring solo which was been specially created for her.

Two years later came the climax in her career when, with Moira Shearer recovering from an appendix operation, Nadia took over the lead in Cinderella at Covent Garden and soon thereafter, she was promoted to the rank of ballerina.

Nadia Nerina twice toured the United States with the Sadler's Wells Ballet, and during the second tour, she went to Canada as well.

She also toured with the Company in Germany, Italy, Holland and France, and appeared at the Edinburgh Festival.

Seven years after leaving South Africa, Nadia Nerina had become a force to reckon with in her own rights, a celebrated ballerina of international fame.

South Africa was extremely proud of this superb young ballerina who, as Nadine Judd, left her homeland as an unknown and returned as Nadia Nerina, ballerina of Sadler's Wells Ballet, a dazzling dancer of technical perfection.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

1952: Nadia Nerina toured South Africa.

Awards, etc


Nadia Nerina and Alexis Rassine theatre programme. 1952.

Mary Clarke, Nadia Nerina, obituary, The Guardian (London), 7 October 2008.

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