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Can you help with my novel, please?


Fiz
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I am writing a novel and have nearly finished it. One of the characters is a dancer (really?!) and I want her to attend the the Sadler's Wells/Vic ballet school during the war. I need to know if such a school is merely a figment of imagination, and if it did exist, where were they evacuated? Many thanks!

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On p16 and p17 of "A True Heritage: the story of The Royal Ballet School and Companies" you should find all the info you need. I purchased the booklet when I visited White Lodge Museum last year. I don't know if it is for sale anywhere else.

It says the School remained at Sadler's Wells Theatre during the 1939 -1945 war years. The New Theatre was the war-time home of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company.Apart from a few months in 1941, when the School was evacuated to Tring, and then Holland Park (in premises provided by The Royal Academy of Dance), it continued to function at "the Wells".

Edited by Nina G.
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Fiz: There must be others who can provide much more detail but, yes, there was indeed a Sadler's Wells School during the war - it had grown from De Valois' Academy of Choreographic Art and, from the early 1930s, shared her company's rehearsal space at Sadler's Wells. Alexander Bland's book "The Royal Ballet, The First 50 Years" has a chapter on the School, from which I quote:

 

" When war broke out in 1939 the Company moved into the provinces but the School remained in London, superintended by Ursula Moreton, assisted by Nicholas Sergeyev. In 1940 the theatre was requisitioned as a rest centre, the administration was transferred to Lancashire and the School had to close down for three months. But after the first scare they were back at Sadler's Wells. In an attempt to rebuild the male strength of the Company, scholarships were offered to likely boys. Conditions were hard. To their strenuous training routines, pupils and teachers had to add slow journeys in the black-out and, when the 'flying bombs' started, their practice was punctuated by much-resented interruptions while they took temporary refuge under the stage - later declared to be unsafe. But at the end of the war the school was in full operation."

 

As I say, others may be able to add lots to that, but it may provide enough on which to build using a bit of artistic licence!

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You are all very kind, thank you. I do not have a contract, so I have no idea if it will ever see the light of day! The ballet story is only a little bit of it, but it is a family saga running from 1885 - 1950.

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Ian, I thought the Wells/Vic. ballet would suffer the vissicitudes of most performers during the war. Vivien Leigh's ultimately fatal TB was caused by the shutttling around and poor conditions of these years and I used it as a model. You are all a big help and support - thank you. x

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