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Synopsis

In 1931, Ninette de Valois started a ballet company with just six dancers. Within twenty years, the Royal Ballet - as it became - was established as one of the world's great companies. It has produced celebrated dancers, from Margot Fonteyn to Darcey Bussell, and one of the richest repertoires in ballet. This book is a perceptive and critical account of its first 75 years, tracing the company's growth, and its great cultural importance. The company danced through the Blitz, won an international reputation in a single New York performance and added to the glamour of London's Swinging Sixties. It has established a distinctive English school of ballet, a pure classical style that could do justice to the 19th-century repertory and to new British classics. Leading dance critic, Zoë Anderson, vividly portrays the extraordinary personalities who created the company: de Valois, founding music director Constant Lambert and chief choreographers Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan. She records the dancers: Fonteyn, Robert Helpmann and Moira Shearer, mould-breaking artists like Lynn Seymour, golden partnerships like that of Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell, through to stars of today like Bussell, Cope, Cojocaru, Kobborg and Rojo, and guest artists who became part of the company, from Nureyev to Guillem. Giving full attention to dance style and performance standards, Zoë Anderson will put Royal Ballet repertoire in context, showing its place in ballet history and in the history of British arts. She looks at the bad times as well as the good, examing the controversial directorships of Norman Morrice and Ross Stretton and the criticism fired at the company as the Royal Opera House closed for redevelopment. An indispensable book for all lovers of ballet.

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