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A History of Irish Ballet from 1927 to 1963

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Victoria O'Brien

This work presents a detailed study of the five key ballet organisations that operated in Ireland between 1927 and 1963: the Abbey Theatre School of Ballet, the Abbey School of Ballet, the Sara Payne School and Company, the Irish Ballet Club and the National Ballet School and Company.
By examining a previously neglected dimension of Irish artistic life, this study aims to provide a greater appreciation of the various roles that ballet has played in the development of Irish cultural activity. It records the rich interaction between the different dance artists and movements and their collaborators across the entire spectrum of Irish artistic endeavour, including Cecil ffrench Salkeld, F. R. Higgins, Mainie Jellett, Patrick Kavanagh, J. F. Larchet, Louis le Brocquy, Elizabeth Maconchy, Donagh MacDonagh, Brinsley MacNamara, Micheál Mac Laimmóir, Norah McGuinness, A. J. Potter, Lennox Robinson, Michael Bowles, Mary Devenport O’Neill, Anne Yeats and W. B. Yeats.
This book breaks significant new ground for an area in which little published information exists. The author pieces together research on the schools and companies from interviews, ballet programmes, playbills, libretti, scores, memoirs, contemporary press reviews, literary articles and photographs, to form a fascinating narrative of the under-researched world of Irish ballet.
Victoria O’Brien trained at the Irish National College of Dance and is a graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and the Laban Centre. Her PhD research focused on the history of early twentieth-century Irish ballet and was completed at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, where she continues to lecture and holds the position of Development Officer at the National Dance Archive of Ireland.