The Joy Newton Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains documentary and photographic materials associated with Joy Newton’s career as a dancer with the Vic-Wells Ballet, and as a teacher and repetiteur at The Sadler’s Wells/Royal Ballet School and the Turkish National Ballet School. Materials include choreographic notes and music scores for a number of productions of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, which Newton helped to revive. Also correspondence, in particular, letters written to Newton by Ninette de Valois, which de Valois sent under her personal name of Edris (Mrs Arthur Connell).

Newton’s hand-written choreographic notes were written as her personal aide-memoire when reviving repertoire, often for students of The Royal Ballet School. These notes, along with some accompanying music scores, record sections of a number of productions originally mounted by the Sadler’s Wells Ballet including Coppélia, Les Rendezvous, Les Patineurs, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides and Job. There are also stage management notes for Les Patineurs (dated 17 and 19 September 1973), and a list (in German) of accessories, décor, furniture, technical equipment and costumes required for a performance of The Nutcracker (not dated).

Correspondence includes a series of 57 letters, mostly written by Ninette de Valois to Joy Newton, between 1947 and 1988. These offer candid observations by Ninette de Valois on particular ballet performances, various leading dancers, as well as recent developments in the School, and the Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells Companies. The letters also consider the development of the Turkish National Ballet School and Company, in Ankara and Istanbul.

Other subjects discussed include: de Valois’ concerns about young students’ welfare; the Markova-Dolin Company; the ballets of Leonide Massine; Robert Helpmann’s resignation from her Company; new ballets by John Cranko and Andrée Howard; news about various dancers retiring; Moira Shearer in the ‘Red Shoes’; the awarding of the Royal Charter to the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (1956); the Company’s foreign tours; receipt of de Valois’ Honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin; MacMillan’s ballets, and Frederick Ashton’s response to them; Nureyev’s defection from the USSR, and preparations for his performances in Giselle with Margot Fonteyn (1962); also the arrangements for Grigoriev to re-mount Fokine’s ballet, The Firebird (1954).

Other correspondence includes letters from Michael Somes (The Royal Ballet), David Dean (Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor), Audrey Harman (Royal Ballet School Archivist), Beatrice Fenman - concerning her attendance at the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of the Turkish Ballet - and Patsy Isle (Royal Ballet School Secretary).

Photographs include a number of portraits of Joy Newton from childhood to mature adulthood, and performance photographs of Newton in Swan Lake (c. 1943) and The Rake’s Progress (1935) with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet. There is a large collection of photographs of the Royal Danish Ballet performing Les Rendezvous (1983). Also, of The Royal Ballet performing Les Sylphides (various dates), Robert Helpmann in the Vic-Wells production of de Valois’ ballet, The Prospect Before Us (1940) and a portrait of Ninette de Valois by Germaine Kanova (c.1947).

Administrative / Biographical History

Joy Newton (1913-1994) was a British dancer and teacher. She studied under Ninette de Valois at the Academy of Choreographic Art and was one of six female graduates of the School who formed the core of the Vic-Wells Ballet upon its foundation in 1931. Newton later became a ballet mistress of the Company, by then re-named the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, 1942-6. She was a personal friend of de Valois, who entrusted her with overseeing the establishment of the Turkish National Ballet School and Company, as its first director, 1947-51. She later returned to London and taught at The Royal Ballet School, 1963/4-1969.

Access Information

This collection is open for consultation and can be viewed by appointment only. Please contact White Lodge Museum via our website at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum

Acquisition Information

Newton/de Valois letters: gift of Jean Bedells, date not recorded

Choreographic notes of Joy Newton: from The Royal Ballet School teaching records, date not recorded

Custodial History

The letters were given to The Royal Ballet School by Jean Bedells, a former dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet. Under the conditions of the gift the letters have restricted access. Please contact the museum for further information.