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MARGOT FONTEYN

Dame Margot Fonteyn, 71, prima ballerina for 45 years, died Feb. 21 in Panama City of cancer.

The legendary ballerina, who prompted 48 curtain calls for her “Sleeping Beauty” in New York in 1949, formed a famous teaming with Rudolf Nureyev.

Born Peggy Hookham in Reigate, Surrey, she moved to China with her family at age 9.

Her ballet career began when she was spotted in the early 1930s Dame Ninette de Valois and invited to join the Vic-Wells Ballet, now the Royal Ballet, at 14.

Two years later, the ballerina, who had changed her name to Margot, was dancing lead roles and soon afterward succeeded Dame Alicia Markova as prima ballerina.

Beginning in 1959, Fonteyn was listed as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet. Three years later she teamed with Nureyev, and the two starred in the company’s premiere in 1965 of “Romeo And Juliet” as choreographed Nureyev.

She retired in 1979, at age 60.

Fonteyn married Roberto Arias, son of a president of Panama, in 1955. He later became Panamanian ambassador to Britain. He died in 1989.

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