Biography

Sir Anton Dolin, born Patrick Healey Kay, was the first in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed British Danseur Noble, whose ca­reer began with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Together with Alicia Markova, Dolin was in­stru­ment­al in the form­a­tion of the Vic-Wells Ballet, foun­ded by Lilian Baylis and Ninette de Valois, which de­veloped in­to The Royal Ballet. At that time, Dolin’s repu­ta­tion was akin to that Rudolf Nureyev later en­joyed.

© Anton Dolin Foundation

In 1935, Markova and Dolin left the Vic-Wells Ballet to form their own com­pany, the Markova-Dolin Ballet, which per­formed and toured for sev­er­al years. The two young Diaghilev alumni formed one of the great part­ner­ships of clas­sic­al bal­let.

Anton Dolin first per­formed the role of Albrecht in 1937, part­ner­ing Olga Spessivtzeva, who taught him the role and coached him, passing on this ballet’s great tra­di­tion. After work­ing with the great Russian baller­ina, Dolin was in­spired to stage his own pro­duc­tion of the 19th cen­tury bal­let, which was much ac­claimed and per­formed around the world.

In 1940, Dolin joined New York’s newly formed Ballet Theater as a prin­cip­al dan­cer. He soon began to stage clas­sics, such as Swan Lake and Giselle, for the com­pany, as well as cre­at­ing his own cho­reo­graphy, in­clud­ing his own ver­sion of Pas de Quatre.

As a dan­cer, Dolin re­peatedly found him­self the male star in bal­let com­pan­ies that were launched un­der his aus­pices or in which he played an in­flu­en­tial role. He be­came known as an ex­cel­lent part­ner. Ninette de Valois defined his style as fol­lows: “In the mid-1920s, his dan­cing brought a spark of vir­il­ity to the male clas­sic­al dance pic­ture. It was Bronislava Nijinska who first brought out his par­tic­u­lar vir­tu­oso form of at­tack”.

In 1949, Anton Dolin foun­ded a new British com­pany, Festival Ballet (which be­came London Festival Ballet in 1950) with Alicia Markova. As its Artistic Director and Principal Dancer un­til 1961, he presen­ted an ec­lect­ic rep­er­tory and toured widely. As a res­ult, the com­pany helped to in­tro­duce bal­let to many new audi­ences. The com­pany is now known as English National Ballet.

One of Dolin’s most fam­ous sta­gings, Pas de Quatre, pays homage to 19th cen­tury Romantic bal­let with his own cho­reo­graphy for four fe­male dan­cers, who por­tray four cel­eb­rated baller­inas. In 1957, the cho­reo­graph­er cre­ated a mod­ern coun­ter­part for four male dan­cers in his vir­tu­oso showpiece Variations for Four.

In his early years, as Principal Dancer, Musical Theatre Artist and Actor, later as Artistic Director, Choreographer, Teacher, Coach and Lecturer, Dolin was a fa­mil­i­ar fig­ure in the in­ter­na­tion­al bal­let and theatre world. A witty ra­con­teur, he was the au­thor of six books, in­clud­ing sev­er­al mem­oirs.

For his out­stand­ing ser­vices to bal­let through­out his life Anton Dolin was knighted in 1980 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll.