Ninette de Valois

Irish-born British ballet dancer, ballet director, teacher and choreographer Dame Ninette de Valois was born Edris Stannus on 6 June 1898 at Baltyboys House, Blessington in County Wicklow. She had decided on a life in the theatre by the age of thirteen, and became principal dancer in the Lyceum Pantomime when she was sixteen, moving on to Covent Garden and the Ballets Russes.

Determined to create in the UK something of what she had experienced in Russia, she gave up her career to found the Royal Ballet in 1931, collaborating with Constant Lambert and Frederick Ashton, and running the company for more than thirty years. Her second ballet troupe became the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and she also founded the Royal Ballet School. She was also instrumental in creating a ballet school in Turkey, which led to the development of Turkish State Ballet.

Ninette de Valois died on 8 March 2001 in Barnes, West London, UK, aged a-hundred-and-two.