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Dame Ninette de Valois
Ninette de Valois was born Edrus Stannus, but like many aspiring dancers of her day, believed she would do better with a French name. Moving from Ireland to England, she studied at a London theatrical school and eventually became a principal dancer with Dyagilev's Ballet Russe in 1922.

In 1926, she established her own ballet school in London, the Academy of Choreographic Arts. When Lilian Baylis re-opened Sadler's Wells in 1931, Ninette de Valois set up the Vic-Wells Ballet, attracting top dancers like Frederick Ashton and Margot Fonteyn. She also created several new ballets such as The Rake's Progress and Checkmate. After the Second World War, the company moved to Covent Garden where it was granted a royal charter in 1956, becoming The Royal Ballet.

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