The Legat Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains a few items associated with Nicolas Legat’s Studio in London (1935-37) and many items relating to the work of Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat and her Legat School in East Sussex (1938-78). It includes correspondence, copies of speeches, programmes, handwritten notes, student register books, manuscripts, books and booklets, a number of legal documents, and 11 mounted prints of caricatures by Nicolas and Sergei Legat.

Specifically, there are 11 mounted colour prints [chromolithographs] of the celebrated caricatures drawn by Nicolas and Sergei Legat, featuring leading figures at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre c. 1900.

Two register books of students attending the Legat Studio at Colet Gardens, Barons Court (1935 and 1937). The books include names of students in alphabetical order, dates they attended lessons, confirmation of payment, length of lessons, types of lessons taken: whether individual or group lessons, general or elementary, character class or double-class lesson.

The collection contains administrative and legal papers of the Legat School and New Trustees appointed to the Legat School Charitable Trust. Documents include: photocopy of Deed of Appointment of New Trustees to the Legat School Charitable Trust, signed by Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat, Samuel Pinnes, Anna Pinnes, Charlotte Eunice Biedryski, Naomi Adrienne Nina Pinnes-Legat, Reverend Anthony Bloom, Ernest Frederick Burdon-Davies; list of Ballet Legat investors (undated); a document recording information on shares and loans relating to Ballet Legat Ltd (22 September 1953) and a school roll for the Legat School (spring term 1978).

Typed manuscripts written by Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat include Ballet as a Fine Art and an Education (c.1967); two speeches for her school annual garden party (24 July 1965 and 22 July 1967); Lecture-Demonstration and Performance at Mayfield Women's Institute (11 July 1967); lecture notes on subjects including épaulement and stage make up. There is also some correspondence to Nicolaeva-Legat (in Russian).

A few photographs of eminent ballet dancers, including an inscribed photograph of Tamara Toumanova (undated), and a whole-school photograph of the Legat School (undated).

Press cuttings include a copy of the review of the first performance of a Polish demi-caractère ballet Kupala by the Ballet Legat Classique at the De la Warr Pavillion, Bexhill, (review dated 18 December 1970) and the article Ballerinas of the Future by Jane Dudley reports on the works of the The Legat School, published by The Heiress (October 1952).

Publications include 10 booklets entitled Ten Variegated Class Lessons in Operatic Dancing (Classical School) by Nicolas Legat; specially prepared for Teachers and Advanced Pupils, edited and arranged by Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat (undated), and a copy of Ballet Education by Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat, with an introduction by Paul Dukes (published by Geoffey Bles, London 1947).

Administrative / Biographical History

Both Nicolas and his brother, Sergei Legat, studied with their father Gustav Legat, and at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg where their teachers included Pavel Gerdt and Christian Johansson. In 1888 Nicolas graduated into the Mariinsky Theatre: although the younger Sergei became a Principal sooner than he, Nicolas made his way steadily through the ranks, and became a favourite partner of leading ballerinas such as Anna Pavlova, Pierina Legnani and Mathilde Kchessinska [Kchessinskaya].

The Legat brothers became assistant ballet masters at the Imperial Theatre in 1902. Sadly, Sergei died in 1905, the year in which Nicolas Legat took over Johansson’s ‘Class of Perfection’ at the Mariinsky. Among his pupils were Lubov Egorova, Olga Preobrajenska, Agrippina Vaganova, Tamara Karsavina, Mikhail Fokine and Vaslav Nijinsky. He was made an Artist Emeritus of the Imperial Theatres in 1913.

In 1922-23 Legat and his wife, the ballerina Nadine Nicolaeva, left Russia to settle in the West. Legat succeeded Cecchetti as ballet master to the Diaghilev Ballets Russes (1925-6). He then opened his own Studio at Colet Gardens, Barons Court, West Kensington in London, where his students included Léonide Massine, Lydia Lopokova, Alexandra Danilova, Ninette de Valois, Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Margot Fonteyn, Moira Shearer and many others.


The collection is arranged in five series: RBS/LEG/001 - Papers of the Legat School; RBS/LEG/002 - Papers of the Legat School, under Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat's directorship; RBS/LEG/003 - Photographs; RBS/LEG/004 - Printed material; RBS/LEG/005 - Mounted printed caricatures; and RBS/LEG/006 – Student Registers of the Legat Studio at Colet Gardens, London.

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

Donated by Mimi Legat, June 2010

Custodial History

This collection was deposited by Mimi Legat at the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) in 2000 by way of a fixed term agreement, initially for a period of five years. In 2009 the NAEA collections and all its effects were transferred to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. In June 2010 the Legat items were transferred to The Royal Ballet School at the request of Mimi Legat, with the assistance of Leonard Bartle, Custodian of the National Arts Education Archive. This Legat material is augmented by the Mimi Legat Collection, donated to The Royal Ballet School Collections in 2012 (RBS/MIM).