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NYCB Vol. 8 No. 14 - La Sonnambula

Allegra Kent was 11 years old when she first experienced an evening at the ballet (1948). The third ballet on the program was La Sonnambula and it was the first ballet that she ever loved. Twelve years later, in 1960, Balanchine revived that ballet for her.

From Allegra's autobiography, Once a Dancer...:

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[1948] "Mother and I traveled downtown by bus to see the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo. I was finally going to have a first view of the dances and dancers I had read about: Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, Mary Ellen Moylan, Ruthanna Boris. [...] At long last I was going to see a professional ballet performance.”

"The only ballet that interested me was Night Shadow, a mysterious fairy tale choreographed by Balanchine. The sleepwalker's exit astonished me, but it happened so quickly. Did a woman with a candle carry a man offstage?”

[1960] "Madame Danilova played a part in preparing to do this role. The sleepwalker's costume was important, and with two undulating movements of her hands, Mme. Danilova had told me to be sure the costume had the right kind of sleeves. Her remark was fortunate because Karinska with the sky-blue hair had already produced what looked like a Bloomingdale's nightie with short puffy sleeves. However, I misinterpreted Danilova's hand gestures—she had meant tight sleeves with tassels. Re-creating Danilova's same ripply wave of the hand, I asked Karinska for wide flowing sleeves. This turned out to be a happy accident. At the next fitting, the long sleeves were in place."

(left) Allegra Kent & Nicholas Magallanes. Photo by Martha Swope, 1960.

(right) Allegra Kent

(left) Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin. Photo by Maurice Seymour cir. 1946.

(center) Original Costume Design by Dorothea Tanning 1946.

(right) Alexandra Danilova in her dressing room cir. 1946.

6. Allegra speaks to Robert Gottlieb for the Foundation Video Archives


We often talk about Maria Tallchief, but her sister Marjorie Tallchief was also an acclaimed ballerina. Her career took her to Europe with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, and the Paris Opera Ballet. Marjorie had success in the role of the Sleepwalker in Balanchine’s Night Shadow (now La Sonnambula) which she performed in 1950 with husband George Skibine. (Pictured together in all 4 of these shots by Baron)

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