Ballet in the Blitz

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A history of Mona Inglesby’s company, International Ballet

Ballet in the Blitz is the story of International Ballet, founded by British ballerina Mona Inglesby during the dark years of World War II. One of Britain’s most important companies in its day, Ballet International  presented versions of the Russian classics  that were generally more authentic than the versions of other companies. Famously, she was assisted in this task by celebrated Russian ballet master Nikolai Sergeyev, who had defected to the West in the wake of the October Revolution, bringing with him the precious dance notations for classics including Giselle, The Sleeping Princess and Swan Lake.

As the director and leading ballerina of International Ballet, Inglesby brought ballet to audiences the length and breadth of the British Isles. She gave employment to an ensemble of some 70 dancers as well as a full orchestra. Dancers in the company included stars and future stars such as Harold Turner, Moira Shearer, Sonia Arova, Celia Franca and the French choreographer Maurice Béjart.

Written with the assistance of Kay Hunter, Ballet in the Blitz is both a biography of Inglesby and the story of her remarkable and resourceful company. During its brief existence from 1941-1953, International Ballet made a substantial contribution to Britain’s postwar ‘ballet boom’ and remains fondly remembered by audiences and dancers alike.

Groundnut Publishing, 2008. Paperback, 172 pages.


READ more about this book in The Oxford Times

LISTEN to BBC Radio 4: Blackout Ballet

‘In this fascinating program, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Ismene Brown uncovers the untold story of the International Ballet Company, founded by the young British ballerina Mona Inglesby. It was a hugely successful British ballet company that toured Britain throughout the war and for 12 years afterwards, performing lavish, full-scale ballets and playing in cinemas where theatres weren’t available, taking ballet to the people at a price they could afford.’ … read more and see photos on the BBC’s website.