Georgina Parkinson, ballet mistress at American Ballet Theatre, passed away in December at 71. Born in Brighton, England, Parkinson started her dance career at age 15 and joined The Royal Ballet in 1957. She was known for her solid technique and strong dramatic abilities, especially in Kenneth MacMillan’s narrative ballets. She created many roles while with the company, including Rosaline in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Winifred Norbury in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Enigma Variations and Girl in Blue in Bronislava Nijinska’s masterpiece, Les Biches.
In 1978, Parkinson was appointed ballet mistress at ABT, where she taught and coached the company for more than 30 years. She continued to perform, and roles with ABT included the Stepmother in Agnes DeMille’s Fall River Legend, Madame Larina in Onegin and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. She also created the role of Mrs. Harriman in Twyla Tharp’s Everlast and a leading role in Robert Hill’s Reverie.
“She was a ‘character’ at ABT who was woven into the fabric of our identity,” says Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. “She was bluntly forthright, but it was masked in this wonderfully neurotic necessity to make sure that everyone was the best that they could be. In the three generations of dancers she supported, there’s a certain group that will miss her like a mother and another group that will miss her as a force.”