Acclaimed Ballet Dancer, Choreographer and Artist
Furniture, Decorations, Asian Works of Art, Textiles, Paintings, Photographs, Autographs and Dance Memorabilia from His Home in New York's Historic Hampshire House
The Collection Will Be a Featured Section of the September 30 Belle Epoque Auction
Doyle New York is honored to auction the collection of acclaimed ballet dancer, choreographer and artist Jelko Yuresha and his wife, the English ballerina Belinda Wright (1929-2007). The collection will be offered as a featured section of the Belle Epoque auction on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 10am.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1937, Yuresha began performing with the children’s theatre of Zagreb’s Artistic School at age six. He studied dance under choreographer Mile Jonavic and was later accepted into the International Ballet School of Oskar Harmos and Ana Roje, the prima ballerina of Croatian ballet and an important figure in Yuresha’s early life. Harmos and Roje established a ballet company in nearby Split, where Yuresha performed, advancing rapidly through the corps de ballet to soloist with prominent roles.
In 1958 at age 20, Yuresha moved to London. He studied at Legat School of Dance and made his professional debut as a guest artist with the Irish National Ballet. He joined the English National Ballet in 1959. He was awarded first prize at the Hastings Music Festival performing his own choreography in a pas-de-deux, and he danced in the BBC Eurovision production of Sleeping Beauty with the legendary prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn. At a Royal Command Gala before Elizabeth the Queen Mother, he partnered ballerina Belinda Wright, who would become his wife, dance partner and lifelong muse.
Born in Southport, England, Belinda Wright was a tiny and frail child. In order to gain strength, she began studying dance, locally at first, then in Paris with Olga Preobrajenska and in London with Kathleen Crofton, regularly winning dance competitions. Following World War II, she became a soloist and principal dancer at a number of prominent international ballet companies, including Ballet Rambert, Roland Petit’s Les Ballets de Paris, London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Companie de Golovine, London Dance Theatre and The Royal Ballet. With a repertoire of 75 roles, she is regarded as one of the leading English ballerinas of the 20th century.
Oneof the most significant influences on the careers of both Jelko Yuresha and Belinda Wright was the English dancer and choreographer Sir Anton Dolin (1904-1983). Belinda Wright was just 5 years old when she first met Anton Dolin at a performance of her dance school. Yuresha would meet him in 1956 when Dolin arrived in Croatia to stage Giselle on the Split Ballet. Dolin established the Festival Ballet (later London Festival Ballet), where Belinda and Yuresha became principal dancers. Upon Dolin’s death, the pair inherited the rights to his choreography of Giselle, Pas de Quatre and his acclaimed original ballet, Variations for Four, which was performed by American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House. Yuresha and Belinda danced and later staged productions of these ballets with dance companies around the world, designing original costumes and sets for those productions.
Yuresha joined The Royal Ballet in 1962, the same year as another Eastern European emigree, Rudolph Nureyev, joined the company. Belinda followed Jelko to The Royal Ballet, and the pair continued their dance partnership in dozens of performances. They later toured with the Harlequin Ballet, and then a unique opportunity arose. Belinda Wright and Jelko Yuresha were invited to represent the British Government and British Ballet as “Ambassadors of Dance.” For ten years, they traveled the world performing in grand theaters of cosmopolitan cities and humble venues in developing nations, where they introduced audiences large and small to the art of ballet.
In addition to his remarkable talent as a ballet dancer, Jelko Yuresha enjoys an interest in other art forms. He is an accomplished painter and a designer of costumes, sets, jewelry and fashion. His keen eye for design is also evident in his elegant home in the historic Hampshire House on New York’s Central Park South. Enlisting the assistance of his close friend, the late interior designer Robert Denning of Denning & Fourcade, Yuresha created a fantastic mise-en-scene echoing the great romantic ballets of the Belle Epoque. Exotic objects from around the world accent his carefully curated collections of Asian works of art, antique textiles, paintings, photographs, autographs and dance memorabilia.
Property from the Collection of Jelko Yuresha comprises lots 76 through 218 in the Belle Epoque auction on September 30.