The Royal Ballet School celebrates its founder on International Women’s Day

founder of the Royal Ballet School headshotToday is International Women’s Day, and I’d like to highlight the day with some information about an up-coming conference hosted by The Royal Ballet School to mark the 10th Anniversary of the death of the Founder of The Royal Ballet School and Companies – the one and only Dame Ninette de Valois OM, CH, DBE (1898-2001).

Entitled Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist this significant and wide-reaching event will be held over the first weekend of April, 2011; opening at the Upper School, Floral Street, Covent Garden on 1-2 April, and concluding on Sunday 3 April at the Lower School, White Lodge, Richmond Park. 

The aim of the Conference is to facilitate a rigorous and multi-disciplinary exploration of de Valois’ life and legacy, while promoting a productive exchange between dance practitioners, academics, social historians and cultural commentators, in the context of ballet and the wider theatre.

The Conference Committee will be chaired by Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance, Theatre and Performance Collections at the V&A Museum.  Committee members are Prof. Elizabeth Schafer, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway College, London; Dr. Libby Worth, Senior Lecturer in Theatre Practice at Royal Holloway College, London; Kevin O’Hare, Administrative Director of The Royal Ballet; Derek Purnell, former Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet; Jay Jolley, Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet School; Anna Meadmore, Curator of White Lodge Museum and Royal Ballet School Collections.  Communications Adviser, Jim Fletcher.

Demand is expected to be high, so please register your interest in booking for this event as soon as possible by emailing: conference@royalballetschool.co.uk.  You can also telephone us on 020 8392 8440, using the Conference enquiry line, Option 8.  Full details will be sent to you on application.

On 26 March 2010 the Conference website will go live and it will be possible to access regular updates about contributors, events and the development of resources from the Conference proceedings. 

  • Details released for first-ever conference dedicated to the life and legacy of Dame Ninette de Valois OM, CH, DEB (1898-2001), Founder of The Royal Ballet School and Companies.

  

  • Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist to be hosted by The Royal Ballet School, from 1-3 April 2011.

 

  • Three-day event includes film premiere and unique performances.

  

  • Concept for Memorial Statue to be unveiled.

Marking ten years since de Valois’ death, the programme for Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist has been imaginatively compiled to reflect de Valois’ extraordinarily long and diverse career, and the remarkable reach of her influence.Starting as a child performer in pantomime, de Valois became a Soloist in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. As a dancer, teacher, choreographer and director, she associated with key members of the Bloomsbury Set; worked with Terence Gray in Cambridge and W.B. Yeats in Dublin; commissioned scores from Vaughan Williams and Constant Lambert, and was part of an exciting ‘artistic crucible’ from which emerged several  vital and widely pervading cultural developments.       

Conference presentations will include a performance by dancers of The Royal Ballet School and Companies at the Clore Studio Upstairs, Royal Opera House, a full reconstruction of the collaborative dance-drama The King of the Great Clock Tower, written by WB Yeats and originally choreographed and performed by de Valois in 1934.  Film screenings will include the world premiere of Dancing Across the Bosphorus – a new documentary which includes rare interviews with members of de Valois’ family.

Experts from the UK and across the globe will contribute to a multi-disciplinary exchange, addressing a variety of subjects including Professor Elizabeth Schafer, from Royal Holloway University of London, on de Valois’ writings, and Professor Beth Genné, from the University of Michigan, who will examine de Valois’ impact on the world of dance.  

Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist will also feature lectures and discussions led by some of the world’s leading dance writers and critics including Clement Crisp of The Financial Times and Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times.

The Conference has been designed to have a reach beyond the purely academic. The event’s closing address will be given by Dame Monica Mason, DBE Director of The Royal Ballet, who comments: ‘The Conference represents a golden opportunity for us to explore de Valois’ life and gain a deeper appreciation of her contribution to the development of British culture in the early part of the 20th century, and in particular to her founding of The Royal Ballet School and Companies’.

The Conference will conclude with the unveiling of the proposed Ninette de Valois Memorial, conceived by renowned American-born sculptor, Richard MacDonald. This sculpture will eventually be housed at The Royal Ballet Lower School, White Lodge in Richmond Park. A privately commissioned venture, the project is intended to generate funds for two ‘living memorial’ student scholarships in perpetuity in the name of Dame Ninette de Valois, thanks to the far-sighted generosity of its creator, Richard MacDonald.

Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist is generously sponsored by Richard MacDonald Studio with additional support from Freed of London and Harlequin Dance Floors.

  • Freed shoes logo and two other ballet companies 

    The Committee is pleased to announce the expected Conference Programme:  

     

Friday 1 April 2011, 3.00 pm – 7.30 pm  

Venues: Royal Opera House Amphitheatre Bar and Clore Studio Upstairs  

Royal Opera House Collections  

Exhibition: Private tours of Invitation to the Ballet: Ninette de Valois and the Story of The Royal Ballet  

Lynne Wake  

Documentary film maker  

Film: New de Valois documentary Come Dance With Me  

Patricia Linton  

Central School of Ballet  

Paper: Fiercely Alone: Personality and Impersonality in de Valois’ Poetry and Work   

The Royal Ballet,   

The Birmingham Royal Ballet &   

The Royal Ballet Upper School  

Performance: Step by Step  

Saturday 2 April 2011, 9.00 am – 6.30 pm  

Venue: The Royal Ballet Upper School, Floral Street, Covent Garden  

Jane Pritchard,   

Curator of Dance, Theatre and Performance Collections, V&AMuseum  

Paper: on de Valois’ early career in English popular theatre  

Prof. Beth Genné,  

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  

Paper: Tradition and Innovation: Ninette de Valois’ Philosophy of Dance and its Impact on the World of Ballet  

Giannandrea Poesio,  

Dance Critic, The Spectator  

Paper: The Irish and the Italians: de Valois, the Cecchettis and the ‘other’ ballet mime  

Dr. Geraldine Morris,   

Roehampton University  

Paper: Developing a Training Style: Ninette de Valois and the Cultural Inheritance of the early Twentieth Century  

Valerie Adams, former Director, The Royal Ballet Teachers’ Training Course, and Denise Winmill, The Royal Ballet School, The Royal Academy of Dance  

Presentation: de Valois’ training syllabus, danced by students of The Royal Ballet Upper School   

   

Panellists to be confirmed  

Panel discussion: de Valois’ approach to training   

Clement Crisp,   

Chief Dance Critic,   

The Financial Times  

Lecture: on the influence of Diaghilev on de Valois’ work; conversations with de Valois, Markova and Rambert  

Michael Berkeley,  

Composer, Broadcaster  

Lecture: on de Valois’ commissions of important English music scores  

Nicola Katrak, The Royal Ballet School, with Julia Farron, Margaret Barbieri, and students of   

The Royal Ballet Upper School  

Presentation: Madam and the Betrayed Girls: the Dancers’ Perspective  

Gerald Dowler, Chair, City of London School, Dancing Times, panellists to be confirmed  

Panel discussion: de Valois’ collaborators and colleagues,  

Dr. Libby Worth, Royal Holloway, University of London, with Simon Rice, The Royal Ballet School, and Ronald Smedley, formerly The Royal Ballet School  

Presentation: the significance of the English folk tradition in The Royal Ballet’s history, with students of The Royal Ballet Lower School  

Figen Phelps,  

Documentary film maker  

Film: interview with de Valois  

Richard Glasstone,   

The Royal Ballet School; former Director, Turkish National Ballet  

Paper: Ninette de Valois’ Turkish Adventure  

Levent Kurumlu  

Film: World premiere of Dancing Across the Bosphorus documentary on de Valois’ personal involvement with the Turkish Ballet  

Sunday 3 April 2011 9.45 am – 6.45 pm  

Venue: The Royal Ballet Lower School, White Lodge, Richmond Park  

Alastair Macaulay,  

Dance Critic, New York Times  

Paper: Frederick Ashton and de Valois’ professional partnership  

Jann Parry,  

biographer of Kenneth MacMillan  

Paper: Kenneth MacMillan’s correspondence with de Valois; her influence on him and other choreographers  

Panellists to be confirmed  

Panel discussion: subject to be confirmed   

Susan Crow, Ballet Independents’ Group, and Jennifer Jackson, University of Surrey; The Royal Ballet School  

Paper: De Valois: Crafting a Collaboration of Talents  

Robert Penman, London Studio Centre, and Victoria Watts,   

The Royal Academy of Dance  

Paper: De Valois’ role in the development and dissemination of Benesh Movement Notation  

   

Dr. Helena Hammond,  

University of Surrey  

Paper: the influence of the Bloomsbury Group on the emergence of de Valois’ and The Royal Ballet’s distinctive approach to designer/choreographer collaborations  

Prof. Elizabeth Schafer,  

Royal Holloway, University of  London  

Paper: Ninette de Valois, the Vic-Wells, and “Writing Across the Footlights”  

Dr Victoria O’Brien,  

University of Limerick  

Paper: on de Valois’ role in the development of Irish Ballet from 1927, and the founding of the Abbey Theatre School of Ballet  

Prof. Richard Cave,  

Royal Holloway, University of London  

Paper: on the collaborative work of W.B. Yeats and de Valois at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1927-1934  

Text: W.B. Yeats; music: Arthur Duffy with orchestration and additional material by Craig Fortnam; choreography: Ninette de Valois, recreated by Will Tuckett; director: Richard Cave  

Performance: The King of the Great Clock Tower (1934), written for 2 singers, 2 actors, 1 dancer and small musical ensemble.  

Dame Monica Mason,  

Director, The Royal Ballet School  

Closing address  

Sunday’s events will include a buffet lunch. The day will conclude with celebratory drinks, and the unveiling of the proposed De Valois Memorial sculpture, intended to generate funds for two ‘living memorial’ student Scholarships in perpetuity, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of its creator, Richard MacDonald.  

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