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Ninette de Valois – Godmother of English and Irish Ballet

Prima ballerina, choreographer, teacher and business woman, Irish born Dame Ninette de Valois was instrumental in raising the global profile of British ballet, founding the company that would become the Royal Ballet, and nurturing the talent of some of the country’s most famous dancers, including Alicia Markova and Margot Fonteyn. In this special blog, we take a look at de Valois’ early years, her rise to prima ballerina, and her shift into production and choreography, using pages from the British

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A Look at the History of Dance Halls – Wedding Bells and Questionable Morals

By 1953 the dance hall was the second biggest entertainment industry after cinema, with an estimated 200 million visitors per year. It was thought that up to 70% of couples met on the dance floor. Today, the dance hall is consigned to history, but for many from the 1920s through to the 1970s it was a weekly fixture, representing an escape from the monotony of daily life. In this special blog we take a look at the colourful story of

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The Tango Craze of 1913 – ‘London Has Already Been Bitten Severely’

‘They name their dresses Tango, their hats Tango, their dogs Tango,’ so reports the Pall Mall Gazette in 1913 at the height of tango fever in London and in Paris. In this special blog, using articles and illustrations from The Archive, we explore the history of the tango, and how its popularity surged after its spread from along the Rio de la Plata in South America to the music halls, the stately homes and the dance floors of Europe. Origins

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Dance in the Second World War – An Extravagance of Determination and Hope

‘It is not proposed to make total war total misery,’ said the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in 1942, as he announced in the House of Commons that dancing was not to be included in the ‘recreations that are to be restricted to prevent interference with the war effort.’ Indeed, for many, dance was synonymous with their experiences of life in the Second World War. American GIs brought over with them new and exciting dance styles, and dancing itself was a

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