Timeless Dancer Edra Toth



Edra Toth’s family left Budapest during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and settled in Boston. She joined Boston Ballet at 13 and would later dance with such greats as Rudolf Nureyev. In 1973, she founded her own school of dance in Dover, NH, that evolved into today’s Northeastern Ballet Theatre. There, she guides dancers — young and older — into many of the roles she danced in her own youth.

Edra Toth surrounded by dancing flowers

Photo by David Mendelsohn

In her own words:

  • My mother was a cleaning lady, so she was able to express her love of singing and dancing when she was cleaning people’s homes. I remember someone saying they loved having my mother around because she was always so happy and singing.

  • I think that’s because she found a way to express her creativity while she was working.

  • At the age of 13, I was made a member of the corps de ballet of Boston Ballet, for which I received my first paycheck for $25. At age 16, I was elevated to the status of principal dancer, the highest position anyone can receive at any company.

  • While in Boston Ballet, I danced every ballerina role, such as Princess Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty,” Giselle, Cinderella, Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Carmen in “Carmen,” and Swan Queen in “Swan Lake.”

  • I was never Clara in “The Nutcracker.” Our white Clara dress is based on the old Boston Ballet dress.

  • “The Nutcracker” is a perennial favorite because it’s a story about a little girl and the only story about a child in the classical ballet repertoire.

  • [Ballet] is 99 percent ambition, drive and hard work.  I count drive and passion as talent. If one has a natural facility, that is just the cherry on top of the sundae.

  • I remember my mother telling me when I was younger to “show no fear,” and her words came back to me when [Nureyev] was throwing me around on stage and I said, “Throw me around — I love it.”

  • Being an artistic director is really an all-encompassing job. I love choreographing and creating beauty.  I have to be able to transport the audience to another dimension.

  • Northeastern Ballet Theatre is the real deal ... we don’t do recitals, we do productions. A young dancer gets the chance to see what it’s like to be in a professional company.

FANCY FOOTWORK: Experienced ballet dancers will often sign one of their old pointe shoes to present as a gift to a younger company member. Jennifer Tate of Dover, whose daughter dances in Edra Toth’s productions, decided to adapt this custom by decorating used shoes and offering them for sale to dancers or fans. She also made this wreath, which hangs in the NBT studio with each shoe illustrating one of the characters of “The Nutcracker.” How many do you recognize, just from her clever decorative additions?

Northeastern Ballet Theatre will present “The Nutcracker” for three performances only: Dec 3 at 7 p.m. and Dec 4 at 2 p.m. at Oyster River High School in Durham, and Dec 10 at 7 p.m. at Kingswood Arts Center in Wolfeoro. For tickets and more information, visit northeasternballet.org.

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