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Greenlit: Dancing in the Blitz: How WW2 Made British Ballet, BBC4

Dancing In The Blitz: How WW2 Made British Ballet  (1 x 60′) – David Bintley, Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, explores how the Second World War was the making of British ballet and how fundamental the years of hardship and adversity were in getting the British public to embrace ballet. Bintley shows how the then Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company (later to become The Royal Ballet), led by Ninette de Valois and featuring a star-studded generation of British dancers and choreographers including Margot Fonteyn and Frederick Ashton was forged during the Second World War.

It’s the story of how de Valois and her small company of dancers took what was essentially a foreign art-form and made it British despite the falling bombs, the rationing and the call-up. It’s also the story of how Britain, as a nation, fell-in love with ballet.

Using rare and never-before-seen archive, plus interviews with dance icons such as Dame Gillian Lynne and Dame Beryl Grey, Bintley shows how the Sadler’s Wells Ballet survived an encounter with Nazi forces in Holland, dancing whilst the bombs were falling in the Blitz, and how they managed on rations to bring ballet to the British people. Their role in the war became the antidote to the austerity the country faced.

During his interview for Dancing In The Blitz, another of the original 1946 dancers, Henry Danton, when talking about rehearsals for the ballet, remembered it had been filmed by an amateur cameraman in colour. Thanks to the BFI archivists this extraordinary footage was uncovered and has now been restored and clips of this restored version will be shown for the first time in over 60 years.

Channel: BBC2

TX: 5th March 2014

Source: BBC press release

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