Ballet News | The David Blair Memorial Trust winds up but support for South African ballet students continues with Royal Academy of Dance

October 23, 2011

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The David Blair Memorial Trust winds up but support for South African ballet students continues with Royal Academy of Dance 

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L to R Luke Rittner, CEO of the Royal Academy of Dance, with Stephen Lansley of Ellisons Solicitors Photograph : Vassiliki Spyropoulou-Caillaud

23 October 2011

The David Blair Memorial Trust has been wound up with Charity Commission consent by Trustees Stephen Lansley and Margaret Barbieri and the remaining funds of £4,400 handed over to the Royal Academy of Dance to continue the Trust’s objectives.

David Blair (1932–1975), was a renowned British ballet dancer and a leading star of the Royal Ballet in London during the 1950s and 1960s. Blair had been a regular partner to Margot Fonteyn and had been groomed to be Covent Garden’s next male star but this was thwarted by the arrival of Kirovdefector Rudolf Nureyev.  Blair died of a heart attack aged 43 in 1976 when about to take up directorship of the Norwegian National Ballet. He was married to the Royal Ballet Principal dancer Maryon Lane, who was born in Zululand in 1931, studied ballet in Johannesburgand became one of an important group of young dancers from the Commonwealth who found success in England.

The Trust’s key objective was to provide support to South African ballet students, like Maryon, to pursue their studies in Europe or America.  Latterly, the fund proved too small to give any meaningful assistance to such students and the Trustees – Margaret Barbieri, a celebrated former soloist with the Royal Ballet and Stephen Lansley, a solicitor and former dancer with Scottish Ballet – sought options for winding down the charity but retaining the spirit of the Trust’s key objective,

Stephen Lansley, now a Partner with leading Essex firm Ellisons Solicitors explains why the Royal Academy of Dance was selected to receive the remaining funds: “We recognised that we needed to identify a charity of reasonable size and resource.  A focus on ballet was obvious but we also hoped to find the connection withSouth Africawhich distinguished the Trust to date.  We were delighted to learn of the Royal Academy of Dance’s initiatives inSouth Africaand the fruits of this work have recently been evidenced in the fact that two South African students received bronze in the Academy’s flagship annual event, Genée International Ballet Competition, which this year was held inCape Town. This focus has already proved the Royal Academy of Dance to be the perfect choice to put these remaining funds to good use.”

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