Valois, Dame Ninette de

Valois, Dame Ninette de vălˈwä [key], 1898–2001, English ballet director, b. County Wicklow, Ireland. She was originally named Edris Stannus. After attaining distinction as a dancer, most notably in Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (1923–26), she became choreographic director of both the Abbey Theatre and the Old Vic Theatre in 1926, the year she founded the Academy of Choreographic Art. With dancers from the school de Valois established (1931) the Vic-Wells Ballet (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-known works date from the 1930s and include 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).

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