Invitation to the Ballet: Ninette de Valois and the Story of The Royal Ballet
When: 2 April-29 July 2011
Where: Carriage Entrance Way, Foyer Link, Cloakroom Corridor, Piazza Link, Paul Hamlyn Hall, Amphitheatre Bar and Gallery
Ninette de Valois is one of the towering figures of 20th-century ballet, taking her place alongside such colleagues as Serge Diaghilev, George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan. This exhibition tells the remarkable story of how De Valois, a young Irish dancer born Edris Stannus, started her career impersonating Anna Pavlova in English seaside pier theatres and went on to found an English school and company, The Royal Ballet, which became one of the world’s leading ballet companies. Her influence is such that there are few people working in English ballet today who have not benefited from De Valois’ legacy.
The exhibition is drawn almost exclusively from the extensive Collections of the Royal Opera House with additional key items being loaned by private collectors and public institutions. Items on display include historic costumes, photographs of The Royal Ballet, set and costume designs, letters, press cuttings and music manuscripts. The items featured here were originally exhibited as part of a larger exhibition seen at The Lowry, Salford from October 2010 until March 2011. They have been transferred to the Royal Opera House as part of a series of events to celebrate De Valois’ legacy on the tenth anniversary of her death.
Ninette de Valois © Gordon Anthony/V&A Images/V&A Theatre Collections
Bottom left image: De Valois as Swanilda in Coppélia © Gordon Anthony/V&A Images/V&A Theatre Collections
Bottom right image: De Valois rehearsing her ballet Job, 1948. From the Roger Wood Photographic Collection © ROH Collections