De, Valois Ninette

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Valois Ninette De Biography

Notable: 1898 – 2001; Ballets Russes

Ninette de Valois was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1898. Her original name was Edris Stannus. She studied under Espinosa, Legat and Cecchetti. After her career as a soloist in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes 1923-26 she founded her own school in London, the Academy of Choreographic Art. With dancers from the school de Valois established the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1931 (later the Sadler’s Wells Ballet and the Royal Ballet ), which she directed for more than three decades (1931-63). She also founded a sister company, which became the Birmingham Royal Ballet. She was a noted choreographer as well, her best works are Job (1931), The Rake’s Progress (1935), and Checkmate (1937). De Valois did much to increase the prestige of ballet in England, and in 1951 she was made a Dame of the British Empire. She retired in 1964 and was named Life Governor of the Royal Ballet. She wrote Invitation to the Ballet (1937) and Come Dance with Me (1957).