New dance festival for Blessington celebrates Ninette de Valois
A NEW festival of dance being held in Blessington celebrates the internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, poet and artist Dame Ninette de Valois.
The west Wicklow woman founded the Abbey School of Ballet in Dublin and the Royal Ballet in the UK.
The festival takes place on June 29, June 30 and July 1 on the 120th anniversary of the birth of Dame de Valois in Baltyboys House in June of 1898.
The festival is a collaboration between the Blessington and District Forum and Interpretive Artists Ireland to honour her extraordinary talents in transforming a global appreciation of ballet and modern dance in the 20th century.
Invited by WB Yeats to return to Ireland following her early success as a dancer and choreographer in England and beyond, Ninette de Valois founded the Abbey School of Ballet in 1927 and was the foundation stone for ballet in Ireland today.
Internationally, she founded the Royal Ballet in UK and was central to the founding of National Ballet Companies in Canada, Australia and Turkey.
The eye-catching logo for the festival was designed by Blessington Community college student Niamh Grace.
At the heart of the de Valois festival will be a gala tribute entitled ‘Invitation to the Dance’ in the Tramway Theatre at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30.
The presentation will feature the wonderful Irish National Youth Ballet, Degani Ensemble led by virtuoso violinist Alan Smale, guest dancers from Cork City Ballet, a premiere showing of ‘Spectre de La Rose’ featuring rising international stars Zoe Ashe-Browne and Dominic Harrison and filmed at Russborough House for the festival.
A specially commissioned dramatisation of de Valois’ poem The Contented Ghost will feature actor Deirdre Monaghan in the title role.
The evening will be introduced by local historian and author Jim Corley of the Blessington History Circle.
On Saturday, June 30, at noon, Tramway Theatre will host ‘Madame’ – a round-table discourse on Ninette de Valois with invited guests including Paul Johnston of Dance Ireland and Joanna Banks, one of the last dancers who worked with de Valois.
The event will be facilitated by TV producer Ann Makower, formerly of RTE. Also on Saturday at 2.30 p.m.,
Russborough House and the Beit Foundation will host an afternoon tea dance at The Hippodrome where the award winning Ballymore Eustace Concert Band will perform dance hits from the 1920s to 1970s.
Entrance is free and all are invited to dress in period costumes of their choice.
On Sunday, July 1, a memorial to Ninette de Valois will be unveiled at noon on Main Street, Blessington, to remind all who pass of her wonderful legacy and special place among her community. Following this ceremony, there will be an afternoon of music and dance festivities in the Main Square with guest musicians and dancers celebrating all of the achievements of Ninette de Valois
Michael Doyle from Blessington Forum, Sinead O’Brien from the Sinead O’Brien School of Dance, Niamh Grace from Blessington Community College with the logo she designed for the festival, and Vincent McCabe from Interpretive Artists Ireland.