Eleanor Joan Cadzow
- Born: 17 Jul 1929, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
- Died: 9 Nov 1994, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany at age 65
- Buried: Nov 1994, Stoffelner Friedhof Cemetery, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Cause of her death was Intestinal Cancer.
She was commonly known as Joan.
As a child Joan was considered to be a fragile child and her doctor suggested that she take up a sport. With the encouragement of her grandmother she started ballet at age 6. Under the tutelage of the legendary Jennie Brenan she developed her talents and, at the age of 12 (almost 13), won a sholarship to the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. This achievement was reported in The Age newspaper on 22 June 1942:
A private cable message from London received on Saturday announced that Joan Cadzow was the winner of the scholarship awarded for ballet dancing by the Royal Academy of Dancing, London. Joan Cadzow, who is only twelve years of age, is a pupil of the Jennie Brenan School of Dancing. The examination was conducted in November and January last by Miss Danetree, of the Royal Academy of Dancing, London.
When Joan was aged 17 her parents allowed her to travel to England and in 1949 she was dancing with the Sadlers Well Ballet Company there. On 3 June 1949 it was reported in The Mercury (Hobart) that there was a fire at the Theatre Royal in Hanley, Staffordshire which destroyed all of the Company's costumes, music and instruments. It also reported that:
Australian dancer Joan Cadzow said she had lost a string of pearls which her father had given her.
While performing with the Sadlers Well Company Joan took some advice from Dame Ninette de Valois who suggested she head to Paris. Some hard years followed but with her gifts, brilliant technique, style and temperament she made her way. Serge Lifar gave her the lead in his ballet L'ecuyére and she became a huge success. She subsequently danced with all the principals in France on countless tours, earning the Prix des Critiques and later (in 1961) the Prix Pavlova along the way.
On 2 October 1954 the Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, enthusiastically reported:
AN AUSTRALIAN IN PARIS
Star of several ballets in a season which ended recently at the Theatre L'Etoile, in Paris, was Joan Cadzow, of Melbourne !
Joan, whose father has just returned to Australia after serving as an army captain in Korea, is hailed as a ballet "find" . Her success here follows that of Kathleen Gorham, who also won fame when she danced in Paris with the Marquis de Ceuvas' ballet.
Joan's most interesting part was in a ballet, Redemption, to music by Liszt.
She is tall and slender and weighs 8 st 12 lb.
She then joined the National Ballet of the Netherlands as a guest ballerina where she danced the big roles such as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, and Sleeping Beauty undertaking many tours of Europe. At the end of the 1950's she started to perform regularly in Germany, in Stuttgart and Berlin. She became the Prima Ballerina of the Städitsche Oper in Berlin with the legendary choreographer and director, Tatjana Gsovsky. During this time she undertook a number of tours of Latin America and Joan became the darling of the Teatro Colon where her roles earned her more awards and accolades.
According to her friend Wolfgang Enck, Joan was born to dance as a swan and birds. Firebird by her friend John Cranko was one of her biggest successes at this time. But the double role of the Swan Queen was her all-time favourite and biggest success.
In 1966 she was a celebrated star ballerina and she agreed to become the Prima of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein which performed in both Düsseldorf and Duisburg. It was and remains one of the biggest and most successful opera and ballet companies in Germany.
Joan boasted a very long career. She was aged 36 when she took on this role in Düsseldorf and she remained the much loved ballerina there for the next 15 years performing a huge variety of roles in all the major ballets. In 1981 she gave her farewell performance in Swan Lake at the age of 51. She then went on to become a teacher and a coach under the direction of Paolo Bortoluzzi.
In 1994, Joan celebrated her 65th birthday and was ready to retire, but shortly after her birthday she was diagnosed with cancer, which was at an advanced stage. She passed away in November of that year.
Her funeral was a big and moving event. The music of the Dying Swan by Saint-Saens was performed - it had been one of her most famous roles.
With thanks to Wolfgang Enck, Joan's colleague and friend, who provided most of this information.