Margot Fonteyn

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The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.

Dame Margot Fonteyn (18 May 1919 - 21 February 1991) was a British ballet dancer, born Margaret Hookham, and nicknamed "Peggy".

Quotes[edit]

If I have learnt anything, it is that life forms no logical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?
  • The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.
    • As quoted in in Simpson's Contemporary Quotations‎ (1988) by James Beasley Simpson; also quoted in Running on Empty: Meditations for Indispensable Women (1992) by Ellen Sue Stern, p. 235
    • Paraphrased variants: The most important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative, and the second disastrous.
      Take your work seriously, but never yourself.
  • What a beautiful step! I shall never be able to do it.
    • As quoted in Encyclopedia of World Biography (1998) edited by Paula Kay Byers and Suzanne Michele Bourgoin, Vol. Hox-Kie‎, p. 504
  • Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable.
    • As quoted in Thoughts from Earth (2004) by James Randall Miller

Margot Fonteyn : Autobiography‎ (1975)[edit]

  • Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the very first time.
    • p. 9
  • Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike.
    • p. 81
  • I need to have a purpose in life and for that I might sacrifice some of the luxuries that I enjoy; fortunately I am fairly adaptable. I try to be aware, flexible and unbiased in my thinking. If I have learnt anything, it is that life forms no logical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?
    • p. 272
    • Variant: Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?
      • As quoted in Simpson's Contemporary Quotations‎ (1988) by James Beasley Simpson

Unsourced[edit]

  • There is probably no life more enchanting than that of ballerinas. More than half their lives is spent in a world of imagination, unreal if you wish, but unlimited and totally absorbing. Into this world the difficulties and frustrations of ordinary life cannot enter. These must lurk outside the stage door until the music, the applause and the lights have faded and the exhilarated dancer comes back to earth.
  • Life offstage has sometimes been a wilderness of unpredictables in an unchoreographed world.

Quotes about Fonteyn[edit]

  • How to put something so visual, so potent with theatrical moment that even film cannot capture it, into plain words? How to explain why it is that when, to a particular strain of music, an ordinary mortal steps forward on one leg, raises the other behind her and lifts her arms above her head, the angels hold their breath?

External links[edit]

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