News: Royal Ballet Founders honoured

Tuesday 17 November 2009

A memorial to the founders of the Royal Ballet has been dedicated in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey.

A specially commissioned memorial stone bearing the names of Dame Ninette de Valois, Founder Director, Sir Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer, Constant Lambert, Founder Music Director and Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margot Fonteyn was unveiled by Lady Sarah Chatto, Vice President of The Royal Ballet in a special service today (Tuesday 17 November).

The ceremony included dance – with solos from works by both Dame Ninette de Valois and Sir Frederick Ashton: Satan’s Solo from de Valois’s *Job* performed by Steven McRae, Principal of The Royal Ballet and simultaneously on a second stage by Robert Parker, Principal of Birmingham Royal Ballet, followed by Natasha Oughtred, Principal of BRB and Romany Pajdak, First Artist with The Royal Ballet performing the solo from Ashton’s *The Wise Virgins*.

Students from White Lodge, the Royal Ballet’s Lower School also performed, along with the school choir. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia performed excerpts from works in the Royal Ballet heritage repertory including the Finale from *Horoscope* composed by Constant Lambert.

Dame Monica Mason, Director of The Royal Ballet said: “It is a great and fitting honour that the Founders of The Royal Ballet are to be recognised in this way. Dame Ninette de Valois was a visionary who worked tirelessly to establish her Companies and School and who, along with Frederick Ashton, Constant Lambert and Margot Fonteyn, brought ballet to a huge new audience, putting British ballet firmly on the map in the process. Through their immense contribution, ballet in Britain is now a thriving art form and The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet School are known throughout the world. All three organisations owe a debt of gratitude to Sir John Tooley, former General Director of The Royal Opera House, and Anthony Russell-Roberts, former Administrative Director of The Royal Ballet for their efforts in bringing about this historic event, and to the Dean of Westminster Abbey, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall for his support and blessing.”

Sarah Crompton, Culture Critic for the Telegraph was there:
_“What it made me realise was how surprisingly well ballet works in a church, the way in which it is, as the Dean suggested – “the hidden language of the soul”, with a transcendental quality almost inbuilt.” _
__Read more in the Telegraph, 17 Nov 09

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