Ivan Nagy

English National Ballet notes with sadness the death in Budapest on 22 February 2014 of Ivan Nagy who was Artistic Director of the Company from 1990-1993.

Born on 28 April 1943 in Debrecen Hungary, Nagy became a great and elegant dancer who spent much of his performing career in the USA. He was a particularly acclaimed partner whose ballerinas included Margot Fonteyn, Gelsey Kirkland and Natalia Makarova. He retired from performing while still at the peak of his career and became Artistic Director of Ballet de Santiago, Chile 1982-96 and Cincinnati/New Orleans Ballet 1986-89 before his appointment to English National Ballet. He later returned to Ballet de Santiago and at the time of his death was Artistic Adviser to the Hungarian State Opera House Ballet for whom, with his wife former London Festival Ballet ballerina, Marilyn Burr, he was planning to mount
La Sylphide.

Nagy’s appointment to English National Ballet was made at the Company’s 40th anniversary gala at the Royal Albert Hall. He took over at a challenging moment after the departure of Peter Schaufuss and quickly needed to rebuild the Company and its repertoire. Nagy brought back Ben Stevenson’s choreography reviving his Cinderella and inviting him to stage a new Nutcracker. He also introduced John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew and invited Raisa Struchkova to mount a new Swan Lake.

Nagy’s choice of short ballets was sometimes questionable but works such as Vincente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes usefully showed off the dancers on both the mid-scale and full Company tours. However it is probably for his discovery of young talented dancers who he invited to English National Ballet and whose careers he enhanced that Nagy will best be remembered here – among them were José Manuel Carreño, Carlos Acosta, Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur.

Tamara Rojo said:
“This is really sad, he was a great inspiration to us all.”