Anna Aragno

ANNA ARAGNO, Ballerina: 1962 -1982

Born in Rome, Italy, Anna Aragno began her professional training at the Legat School in England, where, at age thirteen, she was acclaimed a child prodigy by the London Times for her performance of Giselle. Three years later, again in London, she performed the first full length three act   Raymonda to be seen in the west. Early recognition of her precocious talent   and star qualities catapulted her to winning many medals and awards in national competitions, as well as a scholarship to dance and study at the Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow. Barely 18 she found herself dancing soloist parts on the Bolshoi and immense Palace of Congress stages at the Kremlin, in Giselle and Swan Lake. Brought to the United States, a year later, as a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, she first performed before American audiences with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, under the auspices of Dame Alicia Markova, where she was rapidly promoted to principal ballerina status performing the last season in the old house and the first in the new Lincoln Center.

At the “Met” she met her future husband, opera singer Justino Diaz, a union from which two daughters were born, Natascia and Katya.

In 1967, Miss Aragno began a series of guest appearances that led to a flourishing freelance career performing the classical repertoire that spanned over two decades. Balancing motherhood and traveling she performed with many major ballet companies, symphony orchestras and festivals, both in the US and abroad. Picked by and dancing with Rudolf Nureyev with the ballet de Monte Carlo, early in her career, she was described as “Small but sharply honed, with a child-like but strong face, Miss Aragno has a classically refined technique, by temperament vivacious and modern”. Nureyev later again chose her to cover for Dame Margot Fonteyn in their Broadway performances of Marguerite and Armand. Her impressive list of partners, among some of the finest male dancers of the times, included Edward Villella, Helgi Tomasson, Ivan Nagy, Burton Taylor, Nils-Oke Haggbom (of Sweden), Robert Weiss to name just a few. She has appeared on English, Italian, Swedish, Swiss and US television, starring with Villella in two dance specials, and performed original works in Festivals from Jacobs Pillow to Blossom festival, Spoleto, in Italy, and the USA, The Maggio Fiorentino, and Blossom Festival, with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony (opening their Art Park), the Dallas, Cincinnati, and Detroit Symphonies under Kostelanetz, and with her husband, singing three Brahms songs, in the spectacular “Star Spangled Gala” at the Metropolitan Opera House benefit for the Lincoln Center Library, receiving such accolades as “one of the most beautiful dancers working today”, “a singular tour de force bordering on perfection.”

During the last few years of her career, she had become Helgi Thomasson’s and primarily Edward Villella’s regular partner performing  most of the lyrical/classical ballerina repertoire as well as premiering some new works in the US. Together they opened the Dallas Symphony season in Ravels “Daphnis and Chloe” choreographed by G. Skibine. Their concert tours have drawn gasps and standing ovations throughout America, their dancing hailed as “poetry in motion”. For their performances in ballets such as The Nutracker, Giselle, or pas de deuxes from Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote,  and Romeo and Juliet, they were reviewed as “beauty in strength, beauty in delicacy”, “Miss Aragno projected a softly glowing lyricism that acted as a warming counterfoil to Villella’s muscular fireworks”.

As part of a Gala evening, her final performance was in a “Russian Dance” choreographed especially for her by Alexander Minz to a rarely played violin solo from Tchaikovsky’s full Swan Lake score.

During university studies for a PhD in Psychology leading to a definitive professional transition from ballerina to psychoanalyst, Miss. Aragno traveled as guest teacher, repetiteur, and coach, as well as conducting a year-long comprehensive course at The Lucy Moses School of Music and Dance, NYC, entitled “All About Ballet”.

“Serene, eloquent, and gloriously musical” are the words Clive Barnes, then of the New York Times, used to describe ballerina Anna Aragno’s stellar performance at Lewison Stadium in New York. She has been internationally acclaimed for her technical brilliance and dramatic abilities; “a very graceful performance as Giselle” (Italy) “a ballerina with a highly polished, effortless technique” (San Juan) “spectacular virtuosity”… “wonderful acting”… (USA). “masterful technique…Aragno is philosophical in the dance”(Bulgaria) “her jump is ebullient; leaps burst through the air”.. an exquisite dancer, a great actress..”(USA) “she made us live her character’s experience”..(Mexico).. “Anna Aragno…shone in her lyrical interpretation of Giselle: her mad scene was very moving, and in the second act, not only her dancing but her unusual acting ability gave the ballet the ambiance it demands”(Dance Magazine) “A dancer of particular grace” (the New Yorker)… “in “Ophelia’s madness” we witnessed great mastery and marvelous interpretive artistry…a ballerina in the great tradition”(Bulgaria).



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