The Ursula Moreton Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials reflecting the broad scope of Moreton’s work as a ballet dancer, teacher and personal assistant to Ninette de Valois.

Five scrapbooks compiled by Moreton (1937-50) contain articles and images featuring the leading dancers and companies performing in London during this period and earlier. Dancers featured include: Alexandra Danilova, Alice Nikitina, Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, Antony Tudor, Beatrice Appleyard, Beryl Grey, Bronislava Nijinska, David Lichine, Diana Gould, Elizabeth Miller, Frederick Ashton, Harold Turner, Irina Baronova, Jessie Matthews, Julia Farron, June Brae, Kurt Jooss, Lydia Lopokova, Lydia Sokolova, Margot Fonteyn, Marie Rambert, Maude Lloyd, Mia Slavenska, Michael Somes, Moira Shearer, Ninette de Valois, Nini Theilade, Nina Tarakanova, Nina Verchinina, Otto Strüller, Pamela May, Pearl Argyle, Peggy van Praagh, Phyllis Bedells, Prudence Hyman, Ram Gopal, Robert Helpmann, Roland Petit, Sally Gilmore, Serge Lifar, Tamara Toumanova, Tatiana Riabouchinska, Tamara Grigorieva, Therese Langfield, Vera Zorina, Walter Crisham and Walter Gore.

Also, items featuring Italia Conti with her students; Ashley Dukes at the Mercury Theatre; the medical treatment of Vaslav Nijinsky; Vera Zorina starring in a film ‘The Goldwyn Follies’; Andrée Howard as a dancer and choreographer, and dance students in the London studio of Igor Schwezov [Schwezoff].

Ballets by Ashton, de Valois, Massine, Tudor, Balanchine and Jooss (among others) include Apparitions,Ballabile,Le Beau Danube,Carnaval,Checkmate,Chronica, Cinderella,Coppélia,Cupid and Psyche,Daphnis et Chloé,La Fête étrange,The Gods Go A-Begging,The Gay Parisian,Harlequin in the Street,Horoscope,The Judgement of Paris,On Your Toes,Les Patineurs,La Péri,Peter and the Wolf,Les Présages,The Prodigal Son,Promenade,Prometheus,The Prospect Before us,The Seven Heroes,The Sleeping Beauty,Le Spectre de la rose,Swan Lake,Les Sylphides,Zéphyr et Flore.

Companies include the Vic-Wells Ballet, Sadler’s Wells Ballet, the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo (René Blum’s Ballets Russes), Ballets Jooss, Ballet Club (later Ballet Rambert), the New Polish Ballet and the Anglo-Polish Ballet. There is also a six-page article on the School of American Ballet (1938).

In addition, there are loose cuttings from publications (1910-40) including The Bystander, The Dancing Times,The Tatler, Eve, The Sketch, The Sphere, Nash's Magazine, The Graphic, Apollo, and The Ladies Field. The works represented include: La Boutique fantasque, Chout, Coppélia, La Danza Syria, A Flutter in the Dovecot, Fanatics of Pleasure, The Good-Humoured Ladies, Job, The Lady and the Rose, The Lord of Burleigh, Marouf,A Midsummer Night's Dream, L'Oiseau de feu, Rag-Time,The Rake's Progress, En Route for the Coliseum and The Winter Garden.

These cuttings include pictures of the following dancers: Adeline Genée, Anatoli Wiltzae, Léonide Massine, Lubov Tchernicheva, Lubov Egorova, Ludmila Schollar, Maria Dalbaicin, Michael Fokine, Serafina Astafieva, Stacia Napierkowska, Thadee Slavinsky, Ursula Moreton and Vera Fokina.

Cuttings (1910-27) include images of Anna Pavlova dancing in The Sleeping Beauty, Les cygnes blancs,The Dragon Fly,Mort du cygne, and The Dumb Girl of Portici (film). They include pictures of Anna Pavlova dancing with partners Michael Mordkin, Hubert Stowitts, and Alexandre Volinine.

Also, reviews and photographs of Hassan, produced by Basil Dean with choreography by Mikhail Fokine at His Majesty's Theatre (1923).

An extensive collection of photographs includes studio portraits of Ursula Moreton in a number of roles (1917-32). Some photographs include handwritten annotation which identifies the productions or characters: for example, one labelled "La Nuit 1917", and another depicting Moreton in 'Le Spectre de la rose' at the first performance of the ballet at the Old Vic (4 March 1932). The photographers include Pierrot, Anthony, Alice Vine of Southsea, G. West & Son, Navana Ltd., Vaughan & Freeman, Mesdames Morter, Raphael, J. W. Debenham, Sawara, Elwin Keane, Claude Harris, Jerome Ltd., and Lenare.

There are photographs of Ursula Moreton with other dancers (1917-56) including Claude Newman, William Chappell, Richard Ellis, Maurice Brooke, Michael Somes, John Byron, Frances James and Rosalind Iden. They feature the ballets Coppélia, La Création du monde, Le Baiser de la fée, Le Spectre de la rose, and Beauty and the Beast. The photographers include J. W. Debenham, Yvonne, Stage Photo Company and Pierrot. There is also a photograph of Tamara Karsavina surrounded by ballet students; signed by Molly Lake, Margaret Craske, Karsavina and others (undated).

Photographs depicting Ursula Moreton and other dancers on the roof of the Princes Theatre, London, during the Diaghilev Ballets Russes Season, 1921. Features Ursula Moreton posing in costumes for La Boutique Fantasque,The Firebird, and Thamar. The file also includes 2 snapshots of an unidentified boating party (undated).

Includes autographed photographs and postcards (1921-35) signed by Phyllis Bedells, Vivienne Bennett, Vera Nemchinova, and Lydia Kyasht. The photographers include Bassano, G. West & Son, and Alfred Ellis & Walery.

Photographic negatives of Enrico Cecchetti as the Mother in Giselle and La Fille mal gardée; Alicia Markova and Robert Helpmann in Act II of Le Lac des cygnes; and Margot Fonteyn and Harold Turner in The Rose Adagio of The Sleeping Princess (all undated).

A set of personal documents include Moreton’s handwritten notes marked 'The Academy of Choreographic Art’ (1926) containing technical teaching notes, lesson content and an elementary syllabus; also her small handwritten notebook marked ‘Mime’ and [Francesca] ‘Zanfretta’ (undated); a ledger containing pencil-written descriptions, notes and diagrams recording dances from several ballets: The Arts of the Theatre which appears to be a work including sections entitled Music, Painting and Dancing; Giselle Act I Peasant Dance and Act II The Wilis; Le Carnaval (Harlequin), Casse Noisette Waltz of the Snow Flakes, Le Lac des cygnes,Les Rendezvous and Coppélia Act II Czardas and Mazurka (all undated). Also a typewritten booklet containing a translation of programme notes for The Sleeping Beauty and Casse Noisette (undated). Issues 3 to 13 of ‘Intermediate Syllabus of the Association of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain’ by Edouard Espinosa.

Also, a sheet of paper with pencil caricatures of students, entitled 'The Jan - Jean Academy' (1918): students identified include Moreton, Ruth French, Margaret Craske and Joan Plowright among others; also a teacher, possibly Jean Casterner. Typed notes on the Sadler’s Wells Theatre concerning recent improvements to theatre facilities and notes the forthcoming season (possibly 1934, marked ‘Miss Lilian Baylis’), and typed notes on the charitable status of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, both on the reverse of choreographic notes (undated). A single-sheet outline of a tour by The Royal Ballet through Canada and the United States (c. 1952), handwritten on headed paper from The Old Vic. Notes for 'Founder’s Day Talk' given at the Sadler’s Wells School by Moreton (4 October 1954); teaching certificate issued by the Royal Academy of Dancing, later the Royal Academy of Dance (1971).

Correspondence from Enrico Cecchetti (in French, most is undated, except two items dated 1921 and 1923); also a small number of letters from Tamara Karsavina (1957) and Lydia Sokolova (undated). Promotional cards giving details of Cecchetti’s school, located at Chandos Hall, 21A Maiden Lane, London, outlining prices per term for the classes, the rules of the school, and the names of some of Cecchetti's pupils (in French).

Contract of employment between the Old Vic Theatre and Ursula Moreton signed by Lilian Baylis (April 1937); also two copies of contracts between Moreton and Diaghilev (1 August 1921 and 8 September 1921).

A diagram apparently drawn by Mikhail Fokine of the Nocturne from Les Sylphides (annotated 'given by Fokine to Walter Hussey as a souvenir in 1936').

Papers from the Association of Ballet Clubs (1962-1965) include minutes, bulletins and an announcement of an event organised by the London Ballet Circle.

Two programmes for the Diaghilev Ballets Russes 'Season of Russian Ballet' at the Princes Theatre (1921) and His Majesty's Theatre (1928). Also for performances given at the Sadler's Wells and Old Vic Theatres (1928 and 1938 seasons). Gala performances produced by the Camargo Ballet Society (World Economic Conference, 27 and 29 June 1933); Dancer's Circle Dinner (11 April 1937). Also, the Sadler's Wells Ballet (Season 1938-39); the Sadler's Wells Choreographic Group, later the Royal Ballet Choreographic Group (June 1953 and April 1967).

Two invoices for lessons taken by Audrey Harman at the, Vic-Wells Ballet School, signed by Moreton (undated); and two school prospectuses, possibly 1947 or 1949 and 1955/56 with annotations. These items may have been filed with this collection by Audrey Harman while she was the School archivist.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ursula Moreton (1903-1973) was a British dancer and teacher. She studied ballet with Enrico Cecchetti, and learned mime from Francesca Zanfretta, becoming an important teacher of both disciplines. Aged 17, she made her début at the London Coliseum in The Truth about the Russian Dancers, a play starring Tamara Karsavina (1920). Moreton appeared in the Diaghilev Ballets Russes production of The Sleeping Princess at the Alhambra Theatre (1921-22), and also danced with the Massine Company in the early 1920s. She taught at Ninette de Valois’ Academy of Choreographic Art (the direct precursor of The Royal Ballet School) from its inception in 1926. Moreton danced frequently with the Camargo Ballet Society (1930-33), and was a leading dancer of the Vic-Wells Ballet (later the Sadler’s Wells Ballet) from 1931. She acted as de Valois’ close assistant from the earliest days of the Vic-Wells Ballet, and was appointed Company ballet mistress in 1931. When a second sister Company was formed under de Valois’ directorship, called the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, Moreton became its Assistant Director (1946-52). She was Ballet Principal (1952-64) and then Director of The Royal Ballet School (1964-68). Ursula Moreton had a deep knowledge of dance history and choreography, and regularly gave lectures for the Production Club of the Royal Academy of Dancing during the 1940s. In her memory, The Royal Ballet School established the annual Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award in 1973; past recipients include David Bintley, Christopher Wheeldon, Cathy Marston and Liam Scarlett. Moreton was awarded an O.B.E. in 1968.

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

Gift of Ursula Moreton, date not recorded