The life and legacy of Elaine McDonald OBE

14 May 2019

The life and legacy of Scotland’s first ballerina, Elaine McDonald OBE, is to be celebrated in a unique interfaith service at Glasgow Cathedral. 

On Monday 20 May at 14:00, faith representatives, led by Glasgow Catheral’s recently-appointed Rev Mark E. John Johnstone, will welcome a diverse congregation including prominent members of the UK dance and arts community together with members of the general public for ‘A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Elaine McDonald’.

The legendary Peter Darrell founded Scottish Ballet exactly 50 years ago with Elaine as the Company’s ballerina and muse for much of his choreography. Their unique alchemy laid the foundations of the Company we know and love today. The world-renowned ballerina died on 8 December 2018, aged 75.

One of the highlights of the service will be Scottish Ballet’s celebrated Principal Dancer, Sophie Martin, performing an excerpt from Peter Darrell’s Five Ruckert Songs, to Gustav Mahler’s music. Created for Elaine McDonald in 1978, this deeply moving ballet was a signature piece for Elaine during her career.

Glasgow Cathedral Choir, Chris Nickol (Organist) and Andrew Forbes (Director of Music) will lead the congregation in hymns and psalms plus a selection of musical gems from Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Offenbach whilst the Scottish Ballet Sinfonia will perform excerpts from the ballet Giselle by Adolphe Adam, Saint Saens’ The Swan (‘The  Dying Swan’) and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.

Key speakers will include Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, Christopher Hampson; Dance Critic of The Herald, Mary Brennan; Elaine Mcdonald’s sister Margaret Dixon; Former Administrator of Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera Ann Baird with Father James Lawlor representing the Roman Catholic Church.

Congregants will be welcomed by former dancers of Scottish Ballet.

Christopher Hampson, Chief Executive/Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, comments:

“Elaine McDonald was a rare talent, a truly creative artist and a leading ballerina of her generation. Scotland’s first ballerina dedicated her entire performing life to Scottish Ballet and, in turn, we are honoured to be part of this memorial service to pay tribute to her legacy.”

All are welcome.

Donations in Elaine’s memory towards the Dance Professionals Fund are warmly welcomed.