New dance fes­ti­val for Bless­ing­ton cel­e­brates Ninette de Valois

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By MYLES BUCHANAN

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.

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