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The Royal Ballet: 75 Years

Zoë Anderson

A critical and historical look at one of the world’s greatest dance companies: The Royal Ballet.

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This book is a perceptive and critical account of the first 75 years of The Royal Ballet, tracing the company’s growth, and its great cultural importance – an indispensable book for all lovers of ballet.

In 1931, Ninette de Valois started a ballet company with just six dancers. Within twenty years, The Royal Ballet – as it became – was established as one of the world’s great companies. It has produced celebrated dancers, from Margot Fonteyn to Darcey Bussell, and one of the richest repertoires in ballet.

The company danced through the Blitz, won an international reputation in a single New York performance and added to the glamour of London’s Swinging Sixties. It has established a distinctive English school of ballet, a pure classical style that could do justice to the 19th-century repertory and to new British classics.

Leading dance critic, Zoë Anderson, vividly portrays the extraordinary personalities who created the company and the dancers who made such an impact on their audiences. She looks at the bad times as well as the good, examining the controversial directorships of Norman Morrice and Ross Stretton and the criticism fired at the company as the Royal Opera House closed for redevelopment.

Critic Reviews

Condensing 75 years of tremendous activity and massive achievement, placing every ballet and every major dancer in context, is a daunting task. It might have meant a laundry-list. Happily, Anderson has avoided this with skill. ... (she) picks her way with admirable skill through a mine-field of artistic and political inadequacies, as well as through the season-by-season history of the dance and its dancers. Her narrative is wisely and carefully factual, entirely proper for a celebratory history. ... The Royal Ballet, in sum, is a history well researched, well told and Anderson has a clean, succinct way with narrative. This is how it was, and the future can trust the telling of it.

Clement Crisp, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

Thanks to its exhaustive documentation of a cast of thousands, it will provide every RB fan with a useful reference source.

Barbara Newman, Country Life
Critic Reviews

A perceptive and critical account of the Royal Ballet's first 75 years, tracing the company's growth and extraordinary cultural importance. ... this is a vivid portrayal of the amazing personalities who created the Royal Ballet.

Good Book Guide
Critic Reviews

(Anderson's) chronicle of the company's history is steadily sober and reassuringly accurate, her affection and enthusiasm tempered by critical objectivity. She has trawled the archives, sifted the evidence and interviewed many of the prime witnesses.

Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review
Critic Reviews

Remarkable, a lively and varied tale of endeavour, triumph, relapse and retrenchment every inch as engrossing as Richard Morrison's story of the LSO. Anderson has a simple, lucid style many of us would kill for, discreetly flavoured and studded with selective comments from senior dance critics.

David Nice, BBC Music Magazine

Zoë Anderson is the dance critic of the Independent. As a freelance critic, she has written for The Dancing Times, Independent on Sunday and Daily Telegraph. She has a doctorate in renaissance literature from the University of York.

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