Inspired by Darcey Bussell’s coming-out-of-retirement-specially performance at the Olympic Closing Ceremony, strapped to a flaming phoenix — a monument that should surely be made permanent as some kind of legacy thing — we’ve sought out ten current statues of dancers around London.
Jeté (1975) by Enzo Plazzotta, Millbank
This beautiful bronze captures dancer David Wall in full flight heading for the Thames and looking to the skies. Once you’ve finished admiring the elegant, soaring figure, admire the technical skill that anchors the sculpture to its pedestal by a trailing cloth tied to the dancer’s waist. Leave Tate Britain by the river and turn right and you’ll happen on him.
Photo author’s own.
Caterina Dancing Naked by Julian Opie, Great St Helen’s sculpture space (2010).
This light and graceful trio of nude Caterinas are caught in fluid poses outside the Gherkin. They dance alongside works by Yayoi Kusama, Anish Kapoor and others and contrast wonderfully with the suits passing them daily. This collection is a temporary installation but you can enjoy them until June 2013. Goldsmiths and Chelsea grad Julian Opie is popularly famous for that Best Of Blur album cover but he also worked with Royal Ballet choreographer, Wayne McGregor on the designs for Infra and produced artworks of principal dancers Eric Underwood and Sarah Lamb, Edward Watson and Marianela Nunez.
Photo by George Rex via the Londonist Flickrpool.
Pavlova on the Victoria Palace Theatre (replica).
If you’ve seen musical Billy Elliot or been past Victoria on the bus on diversion recently, you’ll have spotted the gilded ballerina atop the theatre. This was where Anna Pavlova made her glittering London debut and theatre owner Alfred Butt erected the statue in tribute in 1912. Pavlova, reportedly, was superstitious and would “never look at her image as she passed the theatre, drawing the blinds in her car”. The statue was removed before the Blitz in 1939 and disappeared. This replica was installed in 2006.
Photo by Urban Snapper via Flickr.
The Dancers, Cadogan Square (1971) and Dancer with a Bird (1975), Cadogan Square Gardens by David Wynne.
You’re probably familiar with Wynne’s much photographed Girl With A Dolphin Statue at Tower Bridge and perhaps his Boy With A Dolphin at Albert Bridge but he’s also responsible for two dancer statues, further demonstrating his fascination with movement.
The Dancers in Cadogan Square shows two figures cavorting naked in a freestyle duet of abandon — view it from another angle, oh my. Dancer with a Bird in Cadogan Square Gardens presents a more fanciful and feathery pas de deux. Unfortunately, both locations are private to residents only but you can get in on Open Garden Squares weekend.
N.B. Wynne also cast the Beatles’, Joan Baez, Prince Charles and the Queen in bronze, among others.
Photo by Rev Stan via Wikimedia Commons.
Dragonfly by Tom Merrifield, Ivy House (installed 2012).
Merrifield was a dancer himself, classically trained, before he turned to sculpture and has sculpted many of the world’s most famous dancers. The original Dragonfly was created for Pavlova Walk at Victoria Arts Centre, Melbourne. She was recently installed in the grounds of Ivy House, her London home from 1912. Aside from the Dying Swan, Dragonfly was one of her most celebrated solos.
Photo by James Hayden.
Young Dancer by Enzo Plazzotta (unveiled 1988).
Probably the most well known of our collection, the bronze Young Dancer sits tying her ballet shoes almost opposite the Bow Street entrance to the Royal Opera House and just round the corner from the Royal Ballet School on Floral Street.
Photo by Anatoleya via the Londonist Flickrpool.
Pavlova memorial by George Henry Paulin, Ivy House (1954).
The third Pavlovian entry in this list sits in the middle of the Ivy House pond. Pavlova had a special relationship with the her swans, and is pictured with her favourite, Jack, here. The birds inspired her most famous solo, The Dying Swan and Paulin’s water-borne tribute sees her crouching birdlike, wreathed amidst the reeds.
Photo by James Hayden.
Globe Head Ballerina by Yinka Shonibare (2012).
The newest arrival, “Ship in a Bottle” Shonibare’s lifesize ballerina with a Victorian globe for a head is attached to the Russell Street wall of the Royal Opera House, encased in a sideways snow-globe,. The dancer — modelled on Melissa Hamilton, Soloist with The Royal Ballet — rotates slowly. It’s part of the London 2012 festival and will be in place for five years.
N.B. Yinka Shonibare curates Africa Weekend at the Royal Opera House 31 August – 2 September.
Photo courtesy of Royal Opera House.
Statuette, Golders Green Cemetery.
This tiny figurine sits with Pavlova’s funeray urn in Golders Green cemetery. On her deathbed, the ballerina reputedly called for her Dying Swan costume, having refused surgery that might have saved her life but ended her dancing career. Her ballet shoes were originally placed with her ashes but were subsequently stolen. This ballerina figurine — which bears no obvious resemblance to Pavlova herself — now genuflects towards the urn which is flanked by the very appropriate proud swan statuette. Pavlova died in 1931.
Photo by JHvW via Wikiemedia Commons.
In case you were wondering, The Royal Ballet’s most famous ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, has a statue in Reigate.