17 Nov 2009
A Service to Dedicate a Memorial to the Founders of the Royal Ballet was held at Westminster Abbey at 12 noon on Tuesday 17 November 2009.
The Royal Ballet owes its existence to its founder director, the late Dame Ninette de Valois, dancer, choreographer and teacher whose vision led to the creation of both Royal Ballet companies in London and Birmingham and the White Lodge Ballet School.
The Memorial in the Abbey’s south transept (Poets’ Corner) commemorates her as well as the contributions made to the dance company by Sir Frederick Ashton, founder choreographer; Constant Lambert, founder music director; and Dame Margot Fonteyn, prima ballerina assoluta.
The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall who said in his Bidding: ‘Today, in dedicating a memorial to the Founders of the Royal Ballet we establish a permanent means of honouring the imaginative, spiritual, physical and organisational gifts that have come together to create a great and enduring dance company.’ The Dean also gave the Address.
The memorial stone was unveiled by Lady Sarah Chatto, Vice President of the Royal Ballet.
After the unveiling Steven McRae of the Royal Ballet and Robert Parker of the Birmingham Royal Ballet danced Satan’s Dance from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Job, a piece choreographed by Dame Ninette de Valois.
Natasha Oughtred of the Birmingham Royal ballet, and Romany Pajdak of The Royal Ballet performed a Solo from William Walton’s The Wise Virgins, choreographed by the late Sir Frederick Ashton. Earlier, pupils of the Royal Ballet School performed Rondino from Constant Lambert’s Romeo and Juliet Tableau No 1, choreographed by Liam Scarlett.
The dancers, who performed simultaneously in the Abbey's Crossing and Nave, were accompanied by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Barry Wordsworth.
David Bintley, Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, read Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, 11. Sir John Tooley, former Chairman of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, read Philippians 4: 4-9. Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet, read The Crocus, a poem by Dame Ninette de Valois.
Prayers and thanksgivings were led by the Revd Michael Macey, Minor Canon of Westminster
The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub Organist. Before the service the Royal Ballet Sinfonia played and the Choir of the Royal Ballet School sang.
The Order of Service (PDF, 202 KB)
Click on the images to enlarge