Ninette de Valois by Mesdames Morter, 1932,
courtesy of Dancing Times
Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist
Edited by Richard Cave and Libby Worth
Published by Dance Books, Alton, UK (2012)
Available from Dance Books from 30 June 2012
This volume of essays, photographs and DVD materials has been edited by Professor Richard Cave and Dr Libby Worth, and includes contributions by eminent dancers, theatre critics, archivists, dance notators, choreographers, dance teachers and academics.
The major stimulus for the creation of this significant new resource was the April 2011 Conference Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist hosted by The Royal Ballet School. Held close to the tenth anniversary of de Valois’ death, it allowed for a robust approach to the evaluation of her work, rather than memorialisation, and for the emergence of distinct areas of her career that records have previously skimmed over or ignored, or that were in danger of being lost.
In this publication, examination of de Valois’ public persona is offset by an exploration of the private, inspired self revealed in her poetry and theoretical writings. There is an emphasis on the articulation between past records and current practices and responses. To further readers’ appreciation of this context, two groups of de Valois’ own early journalistic writings, are again made available to readers.
This is the first time that such an extensive range of materials on de Valois’ thinking, practice and achievement has been collected in one volume with the aim of providing the practitioner or keen ballet enthusiast or academic researcher with an array of essential resources. To this end, no single argument is pursued throughout the volume, but a series of voices and practical examples is offered that can be mined for contrasting, sometimes combative viewpoints in response to de Valois’ career.
Writing alone cannot hope fully to capture the vitality of theatrical performance or the rigour that underpins its virtuosity. To help remedy this lack, the text of the book is accompanied by a DVD offering some four hours of filmed material to complement the written word.
An appendix gives a biographical time-line of the major phases of de Valois’ life and career up to the time of her retirement from the Directorship of The Royal Ballet. Further appendices give short accounts of the two main archival collections of materials relating to de Valois and details of how to access them.