A Life in Ballet celebrates the life of Ray Barra who is perhaps one of the most beloved figures in the dance world. Barra helped to define the male dancer as not only the noble cavalier of classical ballet but also a forthright manly presence capable of macho, even unsympathetic behaviour.
Victor Hughes explores Ray Barra’s extensive career as a dancer, teacher, director and choreographer as he approaches his 90th birthday. From his early engagements with the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre to his work with the Stuttgart ballet internationally and then later his retirement, Barra’s achievements and contributions to the dance world are unparalleled.
A torn Achilles’ tendon brought an end to his dancing days, however, he remained part of the ballet scene by becoming ballet master with emerging choreographers such as Kenneth MacMillan in Berlin and John Neumeier in Frankfurt and Hamburg. His passion was the creation of his own ballets to which he has devoted himself with well-merited success.
Victor Hughes was born in South Africa in 1939. He started dancing in his early 20s in Cape Town and joined the Cape Town University Ballet and Cape Performing Arts Board. He left South Africa in 1968 and was engaged as a dancer in the UK by London Festival Ballet, later leaving to dance with the Opera House Zürich in 1968. In 1970 he joined the Ballet company of the Städtische Bühnen in Frankfurt, where John Neumeier was embarking on a highly successful career as a choreographer/ director. Victor moved with Neumeier to Hamburg on his promotion as choreographer/director to the Hamburg State Opera Ballet – later renamed Hamburg Ballet. He was promoted to soloist and master assistant in 1972 and danced with them until his early retirement in 1999. He became a permanent resident of Germany after spending many years there and in his retired years he has lectured on Dance History with the Ballet School of the Hamburg Ballet.