Obituary: Alexis Rassine

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The Independent Online
JOHN GREGORY writes of my late brother Alexis Rassine (obituary, 4 August) that 'his beginnings are obscure'. Allow me to enlighten him, writes Max Raysman.

My mother, my two brothers and I left Kaunas (Lithuania) in 1929 to join my father in Cape Town. At the time my brother was 10 years old. His original name was Alec Raysman (not Alexis Rays).

In the early Thirties he showed tremendous interest and enthusiasm for ballet and was sent by my father to the Ballet Studio of the late Helen Webb, the pioneer and doyenne of ballet in South Africa. After four years of study, she recognised his potential and suggested to my father that Alexis be sent overseas to further his studies. In 1938 my father sent him, when he was 17, to Paris to study with Olga Preobrajenska. It was she who suggested that he change his name to Alexis Rassine.