June 29th – July 1st 2018

Launch Night 17 May  7.30pm

Blessington Library





Dame Ninette de Valois is known as the Irishwoman who became the mother of English ballet.  In 1927, along with William Butler Yeats, she founded the Abbey school of Ballet.  This became the foundation stone of Irish Ballet today.  Around the globe, in the world of dance, she became known universally as simply “Madame” .


‘Festival of Dance’

Blessington and District Forum, in collaboration with Interpretive Artists Ireland, is celebrating the outstanding talents of Dame Ninette de Valois in her home town of Blessington, West Wicklow, by presenting a Festival of Dance in honour of the 120th anniversary of her birth at Baltyboys House.  Her early exposure of Irish Dance was the catalyst to her extraordinary career in transforming a global appreciation of ballet throughout the 20th Century.  On the 120th anniversary of her birth, our Festival hopes to embrace her creativity as a living legacy for the community of Blessington and lovers of dance anywhere in the world.


‘Invitation to the Dance’

Invitation to the Dance in the Tramway Theatre, Blessington, featuring the wonderful Irish National Youth Ballet and guest dancers from Cork City Ballet. A specially commissioned dramatisation of the de Valois’ personal poetry by Laurence Foster entitled The Contented Ghost will feature actress Deirdre Monaghan in the title role, with accompanying music by the Degani Ensemble led by vionist Alan Smale.
An added feature will be the filmed presentation of Le Spectre de La Rose which was shot locally in Russborough House, starring Zoe Ashe-Browne and Dominic Harrison for this inaugural festival.*
The Gala Evening will be introduced by local historian, teacher, and de Valois champion, Jim Corley.
Programme for Invitation to the Dance is available here.


‘Round-Table Discussion in Tramway Theatre”

On Saturday 30th June in Tramway Theatre, Blessington, there will be a round table discussion on the life and career of Ninette de Valois with specially invited guests, chaired by Ann Makower, formerly of RTE,  starting at 12 noon.



‘Afternoon-Tea Dance’

At 2.30pm, Russborough House and the Alfred Beit Foundation will host and afternoon tea-dance at the Hippodrome where the award-winning Ballymore Eustace Brass Band will play dance music from the 1920’s to the 1970’s.  Admission is FREE and all are invited to dress in period costumes to suit your taste — with the first dance being a Ladies Choice!


‘Permanent Memorial’

On Sunday July 1st at noon, on Main Street of Blessington, a Memorial to Ninette de Valoiswill be unveiled by a very special guest to remind all who pass of her wonderful legacy and special place among the community of Blessington and West Wicklow.
Following this ceremony there will be an afternoon of Music and Dance Festivities in the Town Square with guest musicians and dancers to celebrate the spirit of Dance infused into Ninette’s soul throughout her young formative years as a child of Blessington.