Pera Palace Hotel, which was built in Beyoğlu, the heart of Istanbul, to host the valuable guests of the famous train of the time, Orient Express, has hosted many important names from past to present. One of these names was the founder of the Turkish ballet, Ninette de Valois… She brought to our country the ballet art upon the invitation in the 1940s and established the first official ballet school of the state; During her visit to Istanbul, she preferred to stay at Pera Palace Hotel.
Ninette de Valois, the founder of the UK ballet, was born on 6 June 1898 in Ireland. In addition to her dancer identity, she was also a teacher, choreographer and art director. Valois moved to England with her family when she was seven years old. She changed her name from Edris Stannus to Ninette de Valois, which was her mother’s stage name idea.
The young ballerina, Ninette de Valois, first appeared in a pantomime at the Lyceum Theater in London at the age of 16. Later, she continued her education with many well-known teachers and worked as a dancer in pantomime, revue and operas. In 1926, she opened her first school called Choreographic Arts Academy in London and started to train dancers. She performed various ballet performances, and she trained several well-known names.
Ninette de Valois proved herself thanks to her unforgettable tour in 1949 with the Royal Ballet/the Royal Ballet of London, which she founded in 1931. So much so that this organisation continues to be one of the most respected and successful dance ensembles in the world…
Let us come to Ninette de Valois’s visit to Turkey. Artist came to Istanbul for the first time in 1947 on the invitation received by the Turkish Ministry of Education and opened a ballet school in Yeşilköy. The school moved to Ankara two years later and soon became a part of the state conservatory. At that time, Valois was started to be known as “Madame” in Turkey. On the one hand, she gave pieces of training, on the other hand, the students she trained had been offered internship and training opportunities in the Royal Ballet. The first Turkish ballet was performed by Ninette de Valois. The show, Çeşmebaşı, staged in 1965, was inspired by Turkish folklore. Because of her contributions to Turkish ballet, several awards and plaques were given to her by the state, along with “Order of Merit of the Republic of Turkey” was presented.
Returning to the personal life of Ninette de Valois; In 1935 she married Arthur Connell, who was a doctor. The couple, who had no children, were together until Connell’s death in 1986.
Valois retired from the Royal Ballet in 1963. Then she opened a new ballet school in England. Despite her retirement, she continued to be one of the essential instructors in the ballet world. She spent the rest of her life writing poems. Valois passed away on March 8, 2001, at the age of 103.