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Ninette de Valois

5 of 25 portraits of Ninette de Valois

Ninette de Valois, by Zsuzsi Roboz, 1980 - NPG 5426 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Ninette de Valois

by Zsuzsi Roboz
charcoal, 1980
25 3/4 in. x 19 3/4 in. (654 mm x 502 mm)
Given by Zsuzsi Roboz, 1981
Primary Collection
NPG 5426


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Born in County Wicklow, Ireland, de Valois studied dance under Legat and Cecchetti and became the principal dancer with the British National Opera in 1918. A soloist with Diagheliv's Ballet Russes in 1923, she left three years later to open the Academy of Choreographic Art in London. From 1926-31 she was Choreographic Director to the Old Vic, the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, and the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Together with Lillian Baylis she formed the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1931 (later the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet). Her ambition to create a British National Ballet was realized in 1956 with the granting of a charter to the Royal Ballet. She was the Royal Ballet's director for 32 years.

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