Ninette de Valois
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The Godmother of English - and Irish - ballet, Dame Ninette De Valois or ‘Madam’ as she was known to those around her. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of ballet. She established the Royal Ballet School, the Royal Ballet and the UK’s premiere touring ballet company, which went on to become the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Under the guidance of ‘Madam’, these institutions grew and became celebrated around the world, with post WWII Ballet tours generating much needed funds for the British Treasury and company members, including Margot Fonteyn and Robert (Bobby) Helpmann, becoming international celebrities. Madam was also instrumental in the development of National Ballets in Turkey, Iran and Canada. She achieved all of this despite a childhood diagnosis of polio and was dedicated to ballet right up until her 102nd year. She is nominated by choreographer Sir David Bintley. He met Madam while studying at the Royal Ballet School in the mid 70’s. To David, who was originally from Huddersfield, ‘Madam’ was his ‘Southern Grandmother’. David is joined by Anna Meadmore – dance historian and curator of the Royal Ballet Schools Special Collections Archive. Together they reflect also on Madam's formidable character, her unprecedented contribution to English Ballet and her legacy as an adventurous traditionalist. Presented by Matthew Parris Produced in Bristol by Nicola Humphries
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