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Very pleasantly surprised to hear Anna Raeburn choosing Tamara Karsavina as the person of her choice in Radio 4’s Great Lives series [click listen again in the next couple of days before they take it off the website]. Of all the people to choose a ballerina for such a programme, Anna Raeburn – with her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee advice seems quite an unexpected champion – and of all the people that Anna Raeburn could have chosen, Karsavina is an unlikely candidate. But it’s a nice thought that someone who generally looks love in the eye and calls a spade a spade, should have such generous, intelligent and heartwarming things to say about a ballerina, when it is so fashionable for male critics and blue-stockings to rubbish ballet & its proponents without having any real insight into what it is. On the subject of what makes a dancer ‘lyrical’, she says:

I think for me it was a face and a body and an ability to live, to realise, through her…the body, something romantic; and what has always fascinated me about ballet is the tension between what you are shown as the audience and the reality for the dancer. So I knew, even at that age, that if what she made you believe was that she floated, and was pale, romantic and white, that she had something very, very strong as an instrument: feet, legs, muscles, the ability to hold, to balance the body…

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist