the Ballet
the History

Ballet in Britain

Since Weaver's productions in the early eighteenth century, England was a place where foreign ballet dancers performed, not a place where ballet was developed, until 1920 when Édouard Espinosa, (1871-1950), and Philip Richardson founded the Association of Operatic Dancing, (which became known as the Royal Academy of Dancing in 1936). And in 1922 a group of followers of Enrico Cecchetti, called the Cecchetti Society appeared in England; this is the group responsible for the creation of the current Cecchetti dance syllabus.

In 1926 Ninette de Valois, (1898- ) opened the Academy of Choreographic Art, which eventually became the Royal Ballet. It was at this time that Frederick Ashton surfaced as the "most English of English" choreographers. His first ballet, Tragedy of Fashion, or The Scarlet Scissors appeared in 1926. It was Ashton who first staged Cinderella outside of the Iron Curtain. Starting in 1934 ballets such as Giselle, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty appeared in Britain, although they started off quite differently than they looked in St. Petersburg, Moscow, or Paris. Another very influential British ballet figure is Margot Fonteyn. Where Ashton made his mark as a choreographer, Fonteyn made hers as a dancer and became the focus of world attention for almost thirty years. A world-renowned dancer she was recognized by H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II with the title Dame Margot Fonteyn. Her name is still recognized even by those outside of the dance world. In 1956, H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II gave de Valois's ballet school and companies the title "Royal" and they became the Royal Ballet of England.

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