Dame Ninette de Valois was born on 6 June 1898 and died on 8 March 2001. Even now she is referred to as "Madam" by dancers of the Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet who could never have known her and indeed by students who were born after she died.
I regret that I never met her even though I could have done had I ever attended any of its meetings as she was patron of the London Ballet Circle in the 1970s. However, I did at least hear her speak at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1971 at an exhibition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company that is now the Royal Ballet.
I am therefore extremely grateful to the Royal Ballet School for the opportunity to hear Dame Ninette's voice again by linking to a recording of her appearance on Desert Island Discs on 20 Dec 1991 from its Facebook page. The Royal Ballet School rightly celebrated Dame Ninette as the founder of the Royal Ballet School which everyone knows but I also learned that she also founded the Turkish Ballet and the Turkish Ballet Academy.
I gained that information from a lady called Gülen Tekebas who wrote on the Royal Ballet School's Facebook page:
"She is also the Founder of Turkish Ballet.. and I am the first child she picked for Ballet Academy when I was 5 y"Later she wrote:
"I am very proud of this.. Dame Ninette said: Turkish Ballet is my child..We all love her and appreciate what she did for us.. Happy Birthday 'Madam'..."That is a delightful contribution from Ms Tekebas and a timely one for Turkey's relationship with the rest of Europe is an issue in our referendum. We should never forget that Turkey has made and will continue to make a great contribution to European culture and serves as an important bridge between the Islamic world and the West.