WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2005-06 > 1120062267
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: LLOYD; Maude-Nov/2004-UK
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 17:24:27 +0100
The Daily Telegraph & the telegraph.co.uk
Maude Lloyd, who died on Saturday aged 96, was one of the most beautiful and
important dancers in early British ballet, but she played equally remarkable
roles backstage as a leading ballet critic and later as the "surrogate
mother" to Rudolf Nureyev.
Her career as a dancer was remarkable, although she always refused to accept
the description "ballerina" on the ground that she had not danced the
Born in South Africa on August 16 1908, Maude Lloyd came to London as a
teenager to study with Marie Rambert, and was one of the founding dancers of
Rambert's Ballet Club in 1927, from which Ballet Rambert was to evolve.
Although the brilliant Rambert choreographers were spoilt for choice in
leading ladies - they had the celebrated Alicia Markova and the beautiful
Pearl Argyle - Maude Lloyd was a favourite for her gentle personality as
well as for her lyrical artistry.
Frederick Ashton would rely on her to wake him in the morning and drive him
to the Rambert studios, and they remained lifelong friends. Among her many
Ashton performances, she played one of the Three Graces in Mercury, which
starred the Diaghilev ballerina Tamara Karsavina as Venus; and in The Lady
of Shalott Ashton cast her as the mirrored reflection of Markova's Lady.
Ashton's more earnest rival, Antony Tudor, who joined Rambert in 1931,
became even more enamoured of Maude Lloyd. Tudor was to emigrate to the
United States in 1939, but his early years under Rambert were his greatest
and most productive, and Maude Lloyd was his muse. Not only was she very
pretty, with beautifully curved feet, but she also danced with a rich,
natural expressiveness that fed the psychological realism with which Tudor
He created all his pas de deux with himself and her, making Maude Lloyd the
lead in his two masterpieces: Jardin aux lilas (Lilac Garden, 1936), in
which she was the bride Caroline and Tudor her unloved groom; and, a year
later, in Dark Elegies, his great Mahler lament for dead children.
Other ballets that he made with Lloyd included Cross-Gartered (she was
Olivia, with Tudor as Malvolio); The Descent of Hebe; and Gala Performance,
a paean to foreign ballerinas in which she played the "very dignified, very
grand" Italian ballerina.
Meanwhile, she and Tudor were closely involved with early BBC arts
programmes: "We became the king and queen of television for a few years,"
she said of their performances in the late 1930s' television revues
Pasquinade and Arlecchino.
After quarrels with the fiery Rambert, Ashton left to join Ninette de
Valois's burgeoning Vic-Wells Ballet, and Maude Lloyd threw in her lot with
Tudor when he founded his own company, the London Ballet. The outbreak of
war was a personal turning point. Tudor departed for New York, and Maude
Lloyd married the art critic Nigel Gosling. She danced the lead role of
Andrée Howard's haunting drama La Fête étrange in 1940, and then abandoned
the stage, joining the Red Cross.
After the war, a new career arose, as she and her husband were invited to
combine her acute insider's insight and his interpretative writing skills to
write jointly as the ballet critic "Alexander Bland", first for Richard
Buckle's pioneering Ballet magazine and then for the Observer, from 1955
until Gosling's death in 1982.
They adopted their pen-name from Beatrix Potter's Pigling Bland, but
Alexander Bland was never bland, employing a racy, personalised, new
critical style encouraged by Buckle. Despite this, they remained close
friends with Ashton and Margot Fonteyn, and their home became an
intellectual salon for artists.
In 1961 Gosling was in Paris to review the Kirov Ballet tour when he saw an
extraordinary young dancer, Rudolf Nureyev; after his defection a few days
later the Goslings were quick off the mark.
They conducted the first British interview with him, and Fonteyn asked them
to mind the Russian while she considered whether to dance with him. They
took to this with a will, using their review of his first Covent Garden
performance - in Ashton's Poème Tragique - to suggest the rejuvenating
effect he could have in those dignified corridors. He was, they wrote, "a
balletic missile, a wild animal loose in the drawing room".
They also offered him free run of their Kensington house. All his life
Nureyev treated their basement flat as his private space (and he believed
that the KGB bugged it). The aesthetic Gosling was enthralled by Nureyev,
but Maude Lloyd's affection was more pragmatic and understanding. Nureyev,
whose defection cut him off from his mother and family for 26 years, loved
the Goslings "like my family", and Maude Lloyd reciprocated: "Although we
came to love him like a son, I never tried to be his mother. That would have
been an insult to his own mother, whom he adored."
Their only son, Nicholas, five years younger than Nureyev, and interested in
films, would frequently be called on to put on film projections for the
movie-mad dancer at his home. Of university age, Nicholas was too old to
feel usurped, and found it easy to get on with the amusing, always polite,
The Goslings' intimacy with Nureyev affected their critical approach for
good and ill. In later years, Alexander Bland remained encouraging of
Nureyev's frayed final performances long after other critics were
disenchanted. In the early years, however, they were the sharp-eyed leaders
in a worldwide recognition that something phenomenal had happened to ballet.
Alexander Bland launched an avalanche of books, editing Nureyev's
autobiography in 1962, when the Russian was a mere 24, and producing two
other volumes on him, as well as authoritative surveys of the Royal Ballet
and British dance.
After Gosling's death, a collection of the Alexander Bland reviews was
published in 1985 as Observer of the Dance. Maude Lloyd wrote no more, but,
with her remarkable memory, was, until her final year, a much sought-after
source for biographies, contributing important insights and material on
Nureyev, Ashton, Tudor and the pivotal ballet era of the 1930s.
Nureyev remained close, often taking her on tour or on holiday with him; and
although she had always known that he had contracted Aids, she was deeply
distressed when he died in 1993. "I always said he would be there to hold my
hand when I went, and was quite sure that he would," she said. One of her
last visitors was Nureyev's lover, Wallace Potts.
Maude Lloyd's son, a dairy farmer, survives her.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
|LLOYD; Maude-Nov/2004-UK by "Peter_McCrae" <>|