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Ballet Encyclopedia

Ivan Nagy

born: 1943

Ivan Nagy was born in Debrecen, Hungary, in 1943. At the age of seven he was offered a scholarship to the Budapest State Opera House where Ivan studied for nine years in academic and professional training. When Ivan Nagy graduated from the school he was given a contract with the company of the State Opera Ballet.

After winning the bronze medal at Varna in 1965 a judge named Frederic Franklin invited him to dance with his company, the National Ballet of Washington. Ivan can be seen dancing in the 1966 film of Swan Lake starring Nureyev and Fonteyn. In 1968 Nagy joined the New York City Ballet for their spring season. Directly after the season was over Ivan joined the American Ballet Theatre until he retired at the end of 1978. He was said to be the preferred partner of Cynthia Gregory, Gelsey Kirkland and Natalia Makarova whom he partnered her in her Giselle American debut. We was a subject of the 1976 book In a Rehearsal Room: A Portrait of Two Dancers, Cynthia Gregory and Ivan Nagy, and of a Dance Film in the Making.

Ivan Nagy married Marilyn Burr, an ex-Festival Ballet ballerina, and with her re-staged many classics all over the world. He worked very closely for four years with the Ballet de Santiago and transformed it into a company of international standing. In 1986 Ivan brought the Ballet de Santiago to New York for their American debut and they were asked back for a future season. Days after the New York engagement the Cincinnati/New Orleans Ballet announced that Ivan Nagy was to become their Artistic Director. He took the three year contract and stayed until 1989. During those years he structured the company into levels from corps de ballet to principal dancer. His contract over Ivan served as director of the English National Ballet for a short time he returned to the Ballet de Santiago and became the Artistic Director. After the dancers went on strike in 1999 wanting better working conditions Ivan Nagy resigned in January 2000 for artistic reasons. Rumor has it that he now has a Pilates studio in Mallorca, Spain.

Quotes on ballets by Ivan Nagy:
On Giselle:
"I start analyzing it. And the more I analyze, the more I hate Albrecht. 'Cause I don't think he's an honest character. I think he just went down to the village for a little hanky pank and just used that poor Giselle. I don't think Giselle meant to him a great deal, it was just freedom and a good time."
On Nutcracker:
"It's a disease. Because I think the commercialization of Christmas, you know. Because every Hicksville little town is doing a version of the Nutcracker. [...] In Hungary you'd never believe, my childhood, we had it every Sunday, the Nutcracker. Autumn, Winter, Spring, early Summer. We had Nutcracker. When I hear the music which is so beautiful, really beautiful, I start getting eczema."
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