The Royal Ballet School launches new book on Ninette de Valois

July 10, 2012

Ballet News

New book about Ninette de Valois launched at The Royal Ballet School

Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist

ballet book coverMore than 100 people from across the British dance world came to the Upper School in Covent Garden earlier this month to attend the launch event for a new book focussing on the life and influence of the School’s founder, Ninette de Valois.

The book, entitled Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist, is a collection of essays and photographs together with a DVD. The DVD features an astonishing 4 hours worth of material. The impetus behind the publication of this book was last year’s conference of the same name – the first ever conference dedicated to de Valois. More than 200 delegates from every corner of the world attended the conference.

With the publication of this new book, there is now – for the first time – a collection of material about de Valois in one place with voices and opinions from a wide range of people: dancers, archivists, critics, teachers and academics creating an impartial array of informative and thought-provoking resources.

Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist is edited by Professor Richard Cave and Dr Libby Worth, published by Dance Books and can be purchased online from their website and from Amazon :



Ninette de Valois was gifted with myriad talents. To summarise these as dancer, choreographer, artistic director and theatre administrator tells only a fraction of her story. It has required a wealth of writers, teachers, performers, colleagues, one-time students and collaborators to come together to engage with and celebrate the complexity of this remarkable woman. More details in her portrait may be gleaned from the titles of the sections into which the volume has been divided: Biography; Teaching; Wordsmith; Company; Turkey; Choreography; Collaborations; Herself. Yet these headings merely intimate the strengths of her private inner resources (her acumen, astounding foresight, dedication, daring) and the diversity of her public achievements, the realising and the steady but relentless expanding of her vision both for a company and of the potentials of dance as an art-form. Determining those strengths and that diversity is the objective of Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist. Writing alone, however brilliant the description or the analysis, cannot hope fully to capture the vitality of theatrical performance or the rigours of the training and rehearsal schedules that underpin its virtuosity. To help remedy this lack, the text of the book includes more than fifty photographs and a DVD, offering more than four hours of filmed material of archival value and importance to complement the written word. One intention in devising this volume has been to provide a substantial resource to assist future exploration of de Valois' life and work and appendices outline the contents of the major collections housing materials relevant to further study. The many essays here pursue divergent approaches and encompass contrasting viewpoints. But it is without question that de Valois' unparalleled success derived from her unshaken faith that ballet in its training methods and its repertoire must be both fearlessly adventurous and confidently traditionalist.
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