Behind every RAD object, there lies a story…

Delve into the archives with us as we share with you some objects that have passed through the RAD’s hands in our 100 year history.

Pavlova’s scarf

After Pavlova’s death in 1931, this scarf was purchased, at the sale of her belongings, by Mrs Margaret Hill. Mrs Hill was the sister of Lord Maynard Keynes, husband of Lydia Lopokova.

In 1936, Mrs Hill passed the scarf on to Miss Margaret Campbell (Laura Maris) a dancer and teacher who worked with the Anglo-Polish and Ballet Jooss Companies.  In 1966, Miss Maris gave the scarf to the RAD in order to raise money for the building fund. A raffle was held and the scarf was won by Miss Margaret Clarabut, a well-known RAD teacher and examiner, who later returned it to the Academy for safe-keeping in 1990.

Harlequin figure

Made by the sculptor of Eros at Piccadilly, this figure of Harlequin was given by Stanislas Idzikowski to the RAD ‘Production Club’ in 1942. Established in the early 1930s, the Production Club aimed to provide a link between the students of the RAD and the dance profession. It also mounted performances of original choreography and is credited for offering famed choreographers Robert Helpmann and John Cranko their first opportunities in the industry. This figure is currently on show at our V&A display On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100.

Photo courtesy of Dance Gazette – Ali Wright.

Wedding Present to Fonteyn

In the 1950s Margot Fonteyn and Arnold Haskell launched an appeal for archive material through the pages of Dance Gazette. Haskell donated his programme collection and photographic archives to the Academy as a wedding present to Fonteyn.

Photo credit: From the Tamara Toumanova collection, photo by Studio-Iris, inscribed in French by Toumanova to Arnold Haskell, London 1933.

Madame Dai Ailian stone bust

Madame Dai Ailian was born in Trinidad and came to London in the 1930s to study ballet. She later studied modern dance at Dartington Hall where she met the sculptor Willi Soukop who created this beautiful stone bust in 1939.  The bust was purchased in 1978 by Mrs Patricia Wilson, and offered on loan to the RAD. Dai Ailian visited the RAD in 1981, when the bust was installed at a reception in her honour, and again in 1993.

Dai Ailian played a pivotal role in the establishment of ballet in China becoming Principal of the Beijing Dance School in 1954 and Artistic Director of the Central Ballet Company from 1963-66. The Cultural Revolution saw Dai Ailian exiled to the countryside and forced into hard labour for several years. Eventually she was able to return to Beijing and resiliently dedicated herself to rebuilding both the school and company (now known as the National Ballet of China).

Photo credit: Martin Mayer.

Idzikowski’s model theatre

This model theatre features 22 wooden figures, made and painted by Stanislas Idzikowski, and represents his famous roles as a dancer in ballets such as Le Tricorne, La Boutique Fantasque, Sleeping Beauty and Les Sylphides. A craftsman by hobby, Idzikowski constructed the theatre with assistance from his wife, who provided the scenery and curtains and Paul King who installed the lighting.

The theatre was finally presented to the RAD by Idzikowski’s nephew in 1979, but the gift had been announced by Idzikowski himself 10 years earlier!

Taglioni’s glass portrait

Purchased by Dame Adeline, this splendid stained-glass portrait of Taglioni was rescued from the Empire Theatre, London, when it was demolished in 1927 and rebuilt as a cinema. The panel depicts the famous Italian ballerina Marie Taglioni (1804-1884), who was one of the first ballerinas to dance on ‘pointe’ and introduced the ethereal lightness and grace of movement that became associated with the Romantic Ballet period (mid-nineteenth century).

The window now stands in the entrance hall of the Royal Academy’s headquarters, Battersea.

Willhelm’s costume designs

The RAD holds a number of costume designs by the most delicate and artistic of all ‘Wilhelm’, who among others designed costumes for Dame Adeline Genée when she was at the Empire.

William Charles John Pitcher, ‘Wilhelm’ was in fact an Englishman and for over a quarter of a century he designed costumes, wrote scenarios, and generally acted as artistic supervisor at the Empire.  He was part of a triumvirate of directors at the Empire alongside Leopold Wenzel (music director) and Katti Lanner (chorographer). The design in the image displayed is currently on show at our V&A display On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100.

Photo credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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