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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 17:43 GMT
Red Shoes ballerina Shearer dies
Moira Shearer
Shearer played a woman who could not stop dancing in The Red Shoes
Ballet dancer Moira Shearer, who starred in movie The Red Shoes, has died aged 80.

The Scottish dancer died in an Oxford hospital on Tuesday, her broadcaster husband Ludovic Kennedy said.

"She was full of spirit and also she was very beautiful," he said. "She moved wonderfully gracefully as you would expect of a ballet dancer."

Kennedy said Shearer, whom he married in 1950, gradually become weaker after her birthday in January.

Movie fairytale

Born in Dunfermline in 1926, Shearer became a member of the Sadler's Wells Ballet school from the age of 14.

By 1946 she was proficient enough to dance a leading role in Les Sylphides and to play Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

In 1948 she starred in classic movie The Red Shoes, based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about a pair of bewitched red shoes that compelled the wearer to dance until she died.

Moira Shearer

Despite her acclaimed performance in The Red Shoes, Shearer took on only a few further movie roles, preferring professional dance to acting.

In 1949 she was a member of the Sadler's Wells Ballet as it made its first US appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House and subsequently toured the eastern United States and Canada.

Alternating in principal roles with prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn, Shearer was acclaimed by critics for her "wonderful skill and precision".

Later roles in films such as 1955's The Man Who Loved Redheads and 1960's Peeping Tom failed to match Shearer's iconic performance in The Red Shoes.

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