The Beginnings of British Ballet: Background information when reading The Dance of the Dolls

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The Dance of the Dolls

by Lucy Ashe

The Dance of the Dolls by Lucy Ashe X
The Dance of the Dolls by Lucy Ashe
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    Sep 2023, 352 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Maria Katsulos
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The Beginnings of British Ballet

This article relates to The Dance of the Dolls

Black-and-white photo of Ninette de Valois, c. early 1920s Lucy Ashe's The Dance of the Dolls is populated by historical figures whose presence in the fictional narrative enmeshes the story within the real history of British ballet. Long associated with the royal courts of France and Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, the art form only became established in Britain in the early 20th century. Ballet in Britain was influenced not only by French and Italian styles but also greatly impacted by Russian ballet and dancers fleeing the Revolution and Soviet Union. For example, in Ashe's novel, main character Olivia notes the importance of Nicholas Sergeyev, former choreographer for the Imperial Ballet in Russia. Sergeyev successfully smuggled notated sections of over 20 ballets out of Russia, including The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake.

One major player from Britain in the early British ballet scene was Ninette de Valois, a cofounder of the Vic-Wells Ballet company, which later became the Royal Ballet. De Valois was born ...

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