Obituary: Prudence Hyman

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The Independent Online
Prudence Hythe (Hyman), dancer: born London January 1914; married; died 1 June 1995.

Prudence Hyman was a bright young dancer when English ballet was emerging. She was lithe and slim, possessing a clean technique, quite notable for those days.

Nurtured by the redoubtable Marie Rambert, she created a variety of roles in early ballets by such budding choreographers as Susan Salaman, Frank Staff, Frederick Ashton, Wendy Toye, Andree Howard and Anthony Tudor. She danced Maria in Cross Gartered, Tudor's first ballet, in 1931, based on the Malvolio episode from Twelfth Night. She also created the part of Eve in Tudor's Adam and Eve to Constant Lambert's music for the Camargo Society at the Delphi Theatre, in 1932. She danced Vamp de Luxe in Susan Salaman's Le Boxing to music by Lord Berners, and was also in Andree Howard's Death and the Maiden (to music by Schubert) and Ashton's dances for Purcell's Fairy Queen. She danced classical roles in Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Carnaval and Spectre de la Rose and her Bluebird in Aurora's Wedding was exceptionally brilliant. Arnold Haskell was in raptures about it.

Born Prudence Hythe, in London in 1914, she was trained by English teachers and in Paris by Russian teachers, Lubov Egorova and Olga Preobrajenska. She built her career with Rambert, and blossomed into ballerinadom on the tiny Mercury Theatre stage, where Ashley Dukes and his wife Marie Rambert had established their centre for dance and drama. It caught the fancy of the intelligentsia, and became fashionable, eventually famous. The audience capacity was 99 persons; everything was done on a shoestring.

Dukes, a translator of plays, presented his international play seasons during the weekdays with such masterpieces as The Man with the Load of Mischief and Mandragola, and on Sunday evenings "Mim" had the theatre for her Ballet Club. It was said that in those days of Sunday-night performances at the club, dancers, whatever their status, received a shilling a performance. Madame Rambert continually lost her stars; they had to earn a living.

Hyman danced briefly with de Basil's Ballets Russes (1934-35) and then toured with the Markova-Dolin ballet. During the Second World War she made some appearances with the London Ballet at the Arts Theatre in lunchtime concerts and toured abroad with Ensa. Back in England she turned to commercial theatre, making notable appearances with Walter Crisham, Hermione Gingold and Hermione Baddeley in intimate revues, a form of entertainment then extremely popular. After the Second World War she married a Rolls-Royce executive and disappeared from the ballet scene.