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Ninette De Valois
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    (June 6, 1898-March 8, 2001)
    Born in Blessington, Ireland
    Birth name was Edris Stannus
    Dancer with the Ballet Russes (1920-27)
    Choreographed 'Job' (1931), 'The Rake's Progress' (1935), 'Checkmate' (1937), 'The Prospect Before Us' (1940) and 'At the Fountain Head' (1963)
    Founder of the Royal Ballet, the Royal Birmingham Ballet and the Royal Ballet School
    Wrote 'Invitation to the Ballet' (1937), 'Come Dance With Me' (1957) and 'Step By Step' (1977)
    Dubbed the 'godmother of British ballet'
    Ballet Russes head Sergei Diaghilev mocked her chosen name as sounding 'half tart, half French royal family.'
    In her autobiography 'Come Dance with Me,' she noted she was married but never mentioned her husband's name.
    Dancer Moira Shearer described her as 'a ruthless dictator.'
    She had a bout with polio that went undetected as a child, which caused pain later in life.
    She was married to Arthur Connell for 51 years until his death.
    A critic wrote, 'She set very high, rigorous standards and didn't allow anyone to fall below them, including herself.'
    On the eve of her 100th birthday she told an interviewer, 'I'm not one of those people who say, 'They don't know how to dance these days.' Because they do know and they're much better than we ever were. I hate these oldies who say there aren't any good dancers now.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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