Celebrating 75 years of the Legat school.
…… Sweet, lovely dancers, come again, again .….O, hasten peace, O hurry, Happy Time.
John Masefield Poet Laureate.
Ballet Master and pupil, later husband and wife Nicolai and Nadine Nicolaeva Legat were the key figures in the development of ballet through the Legat system of dance and introduced it to Great Britain in 1923 after leaving Russia. They set up a studio at Colet House on Talgarth Road in London, teaching such notables as the founder of The Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois.
After Nicolai died, Nadine Nicolaeva moved to Kent and created The Legat School. It was the first ballet boarding school in the UK and held the highest standard of artistic ethics. Excellence, dedication and hard work were implicit, combined with developing an understanding of self through yoga.
Madame Legat through her infinite wisdom taught her pupils how to combine technique with mind and body awareness to create a powerful and beautiful vibrant form of artistic expression. Madame’s goal was to bring out the very best in every student.
After she retired, Madame Eunice Bartell, one of her first British students continued the legacy of Legat. Eunice took over the reigns as Ballet Principal and embraced Nicolaeva’s teachings with equal dedication and devotion.
This year we celebrated 75 years since Nadine Nicolaeva opened her school with a photographic exhibition and school reunion combined; A display and coming-together, which was clearly enjoyed by many from all eras. The exhibit displayed a collection of photographs and memorabilia donated by ex students and tutors with sections from the archives at Bretton Hall, which Patricia Deane-Grey MBE (ex student of Nicolaeva) had previously collated. The event took place at Bede’s Upper School in Sussex, who displayed an extraordinary generosity to us old Legatians over the weekend of May 17th and 18th.
The new items accumulated will be added to the Bretton Hall collection, bringing the archive up to date and showing more of the Legat legacy from its first home at Seer Green to Warberry House, Finchcocks and Mark Cross, the final resting place for the school in its complete and original form.
Much of the Legat’s system has been reduced into obscurity since The Legat School at Mark Cross, but we were reminded how privileged we were to have spent our formative years immersed in this special learning environment. It reiterated the importance of what was achieved by the Legats 75 years ago and the impact they had on the ballet world. For within the legacy lies the true art of dance that incorporates the expression of life with health, beauty and above all pleasure.
The event was attended by: Dame Beryl Grey, Brenda Last OBE, John Raven, Paul Lewis of The Royal Ballet Upper School, Robert Hampton; director of The Russian Ballet Society, Moya Vahey, chairman of the Legat Foundation, and former pupils from 1948 – 1990.
Current teachers of the system include: Robert Hampton, Moya Vahey, Barry Mcgrath, Tamara Moubayed, Tasha Bertram, Fiona Dear Melvin, Lisa Rusay, Soraya Matsuda and Deborah Adamou.