To the book launch for Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist at the Royal Ballet Upper School in Covent Garden yesterday. These are the collected papers and presentations from last year’s conference on “Madam”, great lady of British ballet in the 20th century. Congratulations to Professor Richard Cave and Libby Worth who collated and edited this richly varied resource (including 4 hours of DVD material, and additional texts generated post conference) in record time, and to publishers Dance Books. Delighted to be among the 36 contributors to the text. Jennifer Jackson and I had collaborated on a paper “Crafting a collaboration of talents” exploring the different roles and abilities of this multifaceted woman, the thought-provoking model she provides for women in ballet following her, also reflecting on how her towering achievements are now presented and interpreted. Just one perspective among many exploring de Valois’ public and more private faces, her work as both artist and visionary director, and setting her in the context of a turbulent century.
The centre-piece of the evening was the chance to view again the documentary film ‘Come Dance with Me’, produced and directed by Lynne Wake, originally commissioned by Royal Opera House Collections to be shown in their exhibition Invitation to the Ballet, Ninette de Valois and the Story of The Royal Ballet at the Lowry in Manchester 2010-11. Full of wonderful interview material (Dame Monica Mason, Sir Peter Wright and Dame Beryl Grey), and fascinating archive footage, as well as excerpts of Royal Ballet dancers and students in rehearsal and performance. To be hoped that this will eventually be cleared for public release.
Good to catch up with old friends and colleagues in the splendid studios of RBS, in the spirit of de Valois an occasion to look forward as well as back…
For fuller details about the book, and to order online: