Ninette de Valois

1898 - 2001

It has been rightly suggested that Dame Ninette de Valois is one of the most important women of the century. It was due to her drive and ambition that the modern English ballet was created. In that respect she changed history single handed. Born in Ireland, young Ninette (her stage name was her mother's suggestion) came to England aged 7 to study dance.At that time (1905) the only ballet seen in England was touring Russian or French companies. Inspired by a perfromance of the Ballets Russes under Diaghilev, she joined them in 1923. By the mid 1920's she was convinced that Britain needed and should be capable of producing it's own National Ballet and she set about working towards it with a single minded determination.By 1926 she opened her first school in London, called the Academy of Choreographic Arts. By the early 1930s she had, with the help of Lillian Bayliss, the director of The Old Vic that the theater needed it's own ballet company and school. With help from Lillian Bayliss, Mad

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