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Royes Fernández


New Orleans-born Royes Fernández was America's first premier dancer. He and Ruth Ann Koesun perform a pas de deux from "The Nutcracker" ballet in this photograph from 1958. Learn more

Royes Fernández achieved great success as a ballet dancer. Born on July 15, 1929, in New Orleans, he received his introduction to dance from his father, with whom he studied ballroom dancing. Fernández continued his training in ballet with Lelia Haller in New Orleans. In 1944, he made his first appearance with the New Orleans Opera Ballet. During the summer of 1945, Fernández studied at the School of American Ballet in New York. After graduating from high school in 1946, he moved to New York at age sixteen, studied with Vincenzo Celli, and made his debut in de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe. In 1947, Fernández joined the Markova-Dolin Ballet as a soloist. He was widely recognized for his technical excellence in both classical and contemporary works.

Fernández was considered to be America’s first premier danseur; he created the role of Siegfried in the first full-length US production of Swan Lake by American Ballet Theatre in 1967. He was particularly renowned for his performances of the principal male roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, and La Sylphide.

In 1966, Fernández toured Russia with American Ballet Theatre. In addition to his long career with American Ballet Theatre, he was associated with the Ballet Alicia Alonso, Australia’s Borovansky Ballet, the London Festival Ballet, New York City Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. He was Margot Fonteyn’s partner in his 1963 world tour. Fernández was known for his work with Alicia Alonso, Eleanor D’Antuono, Lupe Serrano, Maria Tallchief, and Toni Lander, among others. After retirement from American Ballet Theatre in 1973, he taught ballet at Purchase, State University of New York. Fernández died of cancer in New York City on March 3, 1980.


Author: Alfred E. Lemmon

Cite this entry

Chicago Manual of Style

Lemmon, Alfred E. "Royes Fernández." In Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published February 18, 2013.

MLA Style

Lemmon, Alfred E. "Royes Fernández" Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 18 Feb 2013. Web. 22 Jun 2018.

Suggested Reading

Kaye, Elizabeth. American Ballet Theatre: A Twenty-Five Year Retrospective. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1999.

External Links

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Additional Data

Coverage 1929–1980
Category Music
Regions Greater New Orleans
Time Periods Late-20th Century, Long Era
Index letter F

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