Dame Alicia Markova
, 94, one of the 20th century's greatest ballerinas and a co-founder of the English National Ballet, died Thursday in Bath, England. She was working until her health worsened a few months ago, the ballet company said.
Born Lilian Alicia Marks in London, she was 10 when she made her stage debut, billed as Little Alicia, the Child Pavlova, referring to one of the world's best-known ballerinas, Anna Pavlova. After training with Serafima Astavieva in London, she joined Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1925 at the age of 14 and adopted the more exotic name of Markova. She received the title dame, the female equivalent of knight, by Queen Elizabeth II in 1963.
Dame Markova was indelibly associated with Giselle, the supreme example of 19th-century balletic Romanticism. It was as Giselle that she made her American debut with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1938, giving a performance that was thought to set a standard for any other dancer attempting the part. She was so closely identified with the ballet that in 1960 she titled her autobiography Giselle and I.