Ninette de Valois’ 1925 ballet The Arts of the Theatre is to be restaged for a livestream performance.
The attempt to recreate de Valois’ ballet has been made possible by the discovery of a long-forgotten manuscript in The Royal Ballet School’s Special Collections, containing detailed rehearsal notes for The Arts of the Theatre written by de Valois’ assistant Ursula Moreton. This exciting find was made in 2019 by Anna Meadmore, Manager of the School’s Special Collections.
The Arts of the Theatre is a short experimental piece of choreography celebrating various artforms. De Valois and Moreton were among the five original dancers in the roles of Music, Painting, Dancing, Comedy and Tragedy in 1925. Now, five 3rd Year students will take on the challenge of those roles.
The students welcomed the opportunity to participate in the historically significant project as part of their degree dissertations. Working under Meadmore’s guidance, students are working to bring the early de Valois ballet back to life whilst a sixth student has been creating a documentary film of the process.
The Arts of the Theatre was set to the piano version of Maurice Ravel’s La Valse, designed by Kathleen Dillon of the Margaret Morris Chelsea arts studio, and first performed at the Queen’s Theatre in London.
De Valois’ youthful choreographic study was an expression of her formative artistic ideals and creative vision. A reconstruction of the work will cast interesting new light on the significant period between de Valois’ departure from the Diaghilev Ballets Russes Company and the founding of her School just seven months later, in March 1926.
The livestreamed performance is scheduled to take place in May 2021 as part of a presentation outlining its reconstruction and will be followed by a Q&A with the dancers.
Booking information will be announced in the coming weeks.
Top photo: Ninette de Valois (standing centre) and Ursula Moreton (kneeling in dress) with students of the Vic-Wells School just after it became resident at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 1931.
Photographer not known. © The Royal Ballet School Special Collections
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.