The Camargo Ballet Society Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of papers associated with the planning, administration and finances of the Camargo Ballet Society, and records of performances produced by them.

It includes six volumes of press cuttings containing both text and images in black and white print; a photocopy of a Nadina Newhouse scrapbook (Newhouse was a founder-member of the Vic-Wells Ballet) containing news cuttings featuring productions of the Society, 1932-33, and two black and white photographs depicting Lydia Lopokova and Ursula Moreton, Hedley Briggs, Stanley Judson and Lydia Lopokova in Coppélia, 1933.

Planning and administrative records of the Society include personal and business correspondence between the Society’s key administrators, artistic collaborators and colleagues at the Old Vic Theatre, London. Correspondents of the Society include M. Montagu-Nathan, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer, Miss J. M. Harvey, Secretary, J.M. Keynes, Hon. Treasurer, and John V. Trevor, Stage Director. Letters from artistic collaborators include some between Constant Lambert and J.M. Keynes, and correspondents from the Old Vic include Evelyn Williams and Lilian Baylis. Correspondence covers subjects such as production plans and costs, tax issues, and the liquidation of the Society, 1936. Among the papers are other records such as the schedule for the Camargo Ballet Society's winter season 1932-33; reports of the Society’s accounts and activities for members; Arnold Haskell’s booklet ''The Ballet in England'', containing reviews of choreographies produced by the Society, and a list of early ballets produced in England by the Society, the Vic-Wells and Marie Rambert’s group. Also included are Company records - a signed copy of the articles of agreement between the Covent Garden Opera Syndicate and John Maynard Keynes, 7 June 1933; and the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

The collection includes programmes and announcements of the Society’s performances in honour of the World Economic Conference, arranged with the assistance of the Vic-Wells Ballet, on 27 and 29 June 1933 at Royal Opera House; a programme for the Society’s performances at the Savoy Theatre for a four-week season, 6 June - 2 July 1932; also a programme for a performance of a mixed bill of English ballet at Det Kongelige Teater, Copenhagen, 26 September 1932. It includes two issues of the Anglo Danish Journal, no. 6/26 (July 1932) and no. 7/26 (November 1932) featuring an article on the ''English Ballet in Copenhagen'', organized by the Association of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain and a photograph of Anton Dolin and Adeline Genée.

Financial papers associated with the Society include account books for the Midland Bank and Westminster Bank Limited belonging to The Camargo Ballet Society; a hand-written account book for the Society, July 1931 - November 1932 with reference to member subscriptions, tickets sales, productions, transfers, salaries, rental and telephones fees and refunds; and loose sheets of an account book, 27-29 June 1933, with reference to tickets sales, salaries, scenery and costumes, printing, publicity and office sundries. These dates correspond with those of the Gala Performance in honour of the World Economic Conference at the Royal Opera House.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Camargo Society (as it is usually known, although the name appears in early programmes as the Camargo Ballet Society) was founded in London in 1930 to further the development of British ballet. P.J.S. Richardson and Arnold Haskell first put forward the idea of a subscription-based enterprise, which won the support of Edwin Evans who became its chairman, and the economist John Maynard Keynes who assumed the role of treasurer. The Society facilitated the creation of new English ballets, and its first subscription performance took place on 19 October 1930 at the Cambridge Theatre, London, with ballets by Adeline Genée, Nicolas Legat, Ninette de Valois and Frederick Ashton. The dancers for these and later performances came mainly from the fledgling companies of de Valois and Marie Rambert, led by prominent dancers such as Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Lydia Lopokova and Olga Spessivtseva. New music and design were commissioned from established and rising British artists, such as Vaughan Williams, Constant Lambert, Edward Burra, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, among many others. De Valois’ Job (1931) and Création du monde (1931), Ashton’s Façade (1931) and Antony Tudor’s Adam and Eve (1932) were created under the auspices of the Society, which also enabled the first British productions of Giselle and Swan Lake, Act II. After two gala performances at Covent Garden in the summer of 1933 the Society was dissolved, its aims having been achieved. Many of its ballets subsequently entered the repertoire of the Vic-Wells Ballet. Bibl.: J. Percival, ‘The Camargo [Ballet] Society’, Dance and Dancers (Jan/Mar. 1961).

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

Custodial History

This collection is a collation of material incorporated from small personal collections given to The Royal Ballet School many years ago. Most details of dates and terms of transfer were not recorded, apart from Gordon Anthony’s gift of two news cutting albums (RBS/CBS/1/5 and RBS/CBS/1/6) in 1987. A number of original members and founders of the Society were closely associated with The Royal Ballet School and Companies, including Ninette de Valois, Arnold Haskell, Joy Newton and Ursula Moreton. These individuals each donated extensively to The Royal Ballet School Collections, and it is likely that this material originally formed part of their personal collections.