Friday, 7 June 2013


[with Frederick Ashton and Leonide Massine]

On her 100th birthday, John Walsh (interviewing her in a Thamesside pub for The Independent) described her thus:
"...older than the century, older than the Queen Mother, older than the house in which she sits and older than the whole history of English ballet. She was alive when Victoria was on the throne. She was performing on the London stage before Archduke Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo. She was taken up by Diaghilev and congratulated on her common sense by Lilian Baylis. She discovered Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nureyev, Robert Helpmann and Frederick Ashton. Her choreography was scored for orchestra by Ralph Vaughn Williams and Constant Lambert who, like everyone else who came into her regal presence, addressed her as 'Madam'."
"It was like holding hands with God." - David Bintley, ballet dancer and director.

The grandest of grand dames of English ballet, Ninette de Valois's creative influence was matchless from the early days of the 20th century to her death a mere twelve years ago, and continues to be felt today. She founded the Royal Ballet, masterminded the worldwide success of the Sadlers Wells Ballet Company, provided a platform for the most remarkable and most remembered ballet performances in history, and only retired when she was in her 70s.

She created a legend, and became one.

"Somebody must always be doing something new, or life would get very dull."

Dame Ninette de Valois, OM, CH, DBE (born Edris Stannus, 6th June 1898 – 8th March 2001)

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