By Helen Morgan

The Royal Ballet, one of the leading classical ballet companies in the world today, owes its origins to an Irish woman, Dame Ninette de Valois.


MM1.ME.0F.0308.VALOIS.F12.0––1979 file photo of Dame Ninette de Valois. (Photo by Tony Barnard/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Established in 1956 by the incorporation of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Company and the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School, The Royal Ballet, now based at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and its ballet school were responsible for establishing British ballet and a characteristic lyrical style.

‘Madam’ as she was known to her company, was born Edris Stannus on the 6th June, 1898, at Baltiboys House, an 18th century manor house, near Blessington in Co. Wicklow. Following a decline in the family’s fortune Edris moved with her parents to England in 1906 where she lived with her maternal grandmother.

Two years later she joined a local dance class and by the age of 13 was appearing regularly in commercial theatre with Lila Field’s Wonder Children.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own