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De Valois and Fonteyn photos and costumes on show
Two new public exhibitions are to show at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, paying tribute to ballet legends Ninette de Valois and Margot Fonteyn.

Photos of the ballerinas in their early professional careers, programmes, letters and designs will be included in the exhibitions, which are free and will be open to the public from 19 September until January 2002.

Dame Ninette de Valois, founder director of The Royal Ballet, occupies a unique position in the history of dance in the UK. De Valois began her career as a dancer, appearing on 'every pier in England' before joining Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company. This latter experience gave her the inspiration to found her own ballet school and company which were to become the Royal Ballet School, The Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

An exhibition in the public areas of the Royal Opera House will consider de Valois’ outstanding contribution to British ballet, as dancer, teacher and choreographer, through programmes, photographs, correspondence and designs.

Material on display will include designs for de Valois’ ballets for Don Quixote and Barabau by Edward Burra, by Roger Furse for Prometheus and Rex Whistler for The Rake's Progress. Photographs show Madam as a dancer with the young Vic-Wells/Sadler’s Wells Ballet, as Director of The Royal Ballet with the company on their first visit to Russia in 1961, and coaching students and company members. There will also be material bequeathed by Ninette de Valois to the Royal Opera House.

A complementary exhibition will celebrate the career of Dame Margot Fonteyn, Prima Ballerina Assoluta of The Royal Ballet.

Fonteyn’s early career was nurtured by de Valois who recognized her special qualities and facilitated the creative partnership with Frederick Ashton, founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet.

This exhibition will consist almost exclusively of material purchased from the Margot Fonteyn Collection, which was sold at auctioneers Christie’s in December 2000. It includes costumes from The Sleeping Beauty designed by Oliver Messel, from Raymonda and Swan Lake designed by Leslie Hurry, head-dresses from Cinderella designed by Jean-Denis Malclès and Giselle Acts I & II designed by James Bailey, the latter worn for her first appearances with Rudolf Nureyev in 1962.

There are photographs of Fonteyn's childhood and early dance experiences in Shanghai, and covering her entire career. Most of the images on display are new to the Royal Opera House Archives.

The Royal Opera House exhibition areas are usually open to the public Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm. Entrance to the exhibitions is free and open to the public from 19 September.

Thu Aug 30 2001 (4:36:24 PM)