Moira Shearer and the classic “The Red Shoes”

Moira Shearer was a soloist at the Royal Ballet (at the time, Sadler’s Wells) and a contemporary of Margot Fonteyn, the company’s great star. However, while Margot is the greatest legend in the ballet universe, for several generations, it was Moira who is in the imagination of the perfect ballerina, inspiring several generations to follow in her footsteps. All thanks to the first film he starred in, The Red Shoes.

Born in Scotland but raised in Northern Rhodesia, Africa, Moira began her studies at the age of six, and when she returned to England as a teenager, she was accepted into Sadler’s Well school. In just one year he was already part of the company, drawing attention for the beauty of his gestures and refined technique. Her hair color – red – also helped her stand out. She quickly began dancing solos created especially for her, by Frederick Ashton and Ninette de Valois. In 1944, in just 3 years, she was already one of the main artists, second only to Margot Fonteyn.

Moira excelled in classics for her agility, embracing classic and contemporary. In 1946, in the season of Sleeping Beauty that made Margot the star, Moira stood out. He danced to Swan Lake and Giselle, as well as Symphonic Variations.


When Margot Fonteyn injured herself dancing Cinderella, in 1948, and could not finish the season, it was Moira who replaced her, with public and critical approval. He was only 23 years old.

It was around this time that directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – already involved with the production of The Red Shoes – decided they had found their Victoria Page. But, like the character who immortalized her, Moira just wanted to dance. He thought the script was “silly” and ruled out making the film. She needed the interference of Ninette De Valois, who advised her to accept the challenge, “even if it is for him to stop chasing you”. The life of Moira Shearer was never the same.

The Red Shoes was nominated for five Oscars, winning two, including Best Soundtrack and Art Direction. Moira became an international star, sharing attention with Margot Fonteyn on the company’s American tour, shortly after the film’s release. It was a watershed.

According to her, there was jealousy in Sadler’s Wells of Moira’s great success as an actress. “The film destroyed my ballet career, my peers never trusted me again,” she said in a 1994 interview.

At just 28 years old, she hung up her ballet shoes and followed only acting and writing. Moira married a journalist, with whom she had four children. She passed away at age 80, of natural causes. It remained, forever, a pop symbol of dance.

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