I can in all honesty say that in all of my many years of being in the Ballet world, one name stands out as an influence above all others — Maria Fay
She was my teacher for really such a short time, yet her influence upon me, as a dancer, as a teacher and a choreographer, stands out in my thought process over many others.
In 1961, after ten years with the National Ballet of Canada, I felt that a change needed to enter my life. I could see a future which did not please me.
Thus, as in 1946, I boarded a ship and went to England. The aim was to study, to get a new perspective on my life as a dancer. There were no timelines, I left that open.
When I arrived, in so many cases, the 13 years away from that Island, seemed to melt away. It was almost like going home.
I knew that I had to maintain the dance side, but upon being offered an opportunity to go by car through France and Spain, I could not refuse the offer. We went from London to the south coast of Spain, it relaxed me, and made me ready for whatever would come.
Back in London I went to the West Street studio where I had taken my last class in London in 1948, with Anna Northcote. I could not believe my eyes, Anna was still there, teaching, and she remembered me. A few classes with her, then keep your ears to the ground, for other teachers.
One of my Canadian chums told me about this woman who taught a very Bolshoi Ballet class. Being partial to the Russian ideas, I found her. Philbeach Gardens, near Earls Court.
She was a dark haired live wire, who taught a mean class. Hungarian, with all of the fire that one imagines comes out of that culture. Maria Fay made quite an impression.
I was soon doing two classes a day with her, and feeling day by day, the changes that were taking place.
One other amazing thing that was also in that studio, was Mavis Barr, her pianist. It took time, but one day it hit me, Mavis had played at the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School in Chalk Farm when I was a scholarship student there, in 1946.
Lunch together each day in Earls Court, and much discussion.
During this period, I was approached by Festival Ballet to audition.
I went to Festival Hall to do a class with the company, taught by Leon Woizikowski, a name which I remembered as being the first worrier chief in the Fokine ballet “Prince Igor”.
Julian Braunsweg, the director general of the company was watching.
Very soon I was appearing with the company, and would until 1969.
The work with Maria Fay, continued whenever possible.
In the midst of all this, I made a return journey to Toronto, and the National Ballet.
During my first class with them for almost a year, I really discovered what had happened to me, studying with Maria.
I was slimmer, my legs which had been in truth, rather chunky, were slim. The other very noticeable change was that, I was more flexible than anyone in the company.
The changes were all due to Maria Fay.
I knew that as much as possible I had to maintain the level and type of work I had been doing with Maria.
I injured my self during that period, and knew that I had to return to London to seek help from Maria.
Back in London once again, I was treated to the other side of this woman, the one who could heal me through her classes.
Due to circumstances which are far too complicated to bring forward at this time, I eventually lost Maria.
Doing classes with her became a thing of the past, so I had to maintain myself by giving myself a Maria Fay class.
After Festival Ballet, there was a dry period, then there was the Royal Ballet.
Eventually, there was no contact, a very foolish and sad time.
I have only recently been able to make contact with Maria, but our memories are still there.
Maria Fay, was born and trained in Budapest, Hungary.
Her training was under the communist regime, so was fully based upon the Russian School of Ballet, the Vaganova System.
She never advertised herself as a Vaganova method teacher, she adapted that method to her own way of working.
At the time we first lost contact, she was touring and teaching with the Ballet de Quevas in Europe.
She taught at the Royal Ballet School, choreographed at Covent Garden for the Opera . Taught at the Royal Ballet School and did some TV work..
She also taught in Beijing,Copenhagen, Oslo,Winnipeg,Verona, Berlin, Montreal, Amsterdam, Vienna, Rotterdam, Milan, Munich—and the list goes on.
She wrote articles for Dancing Times for six years, wrote two books and made three video tapes.
With some more physical problems, she has had to give up teaching large classes.
From her correspondence I can still sense that the spark is still there.
Having gone through physical problems myself, I can fully understand.