Ninette de ValoisDame Ninette de Valois (June 6, 1898 - March 8, 2001) was the Irish founder of London's renowned Royal Ballet.
Born Edris Stannus in Baltibouys, Ireland, Stannus began dancing in 1908 at age ten, and became noticed throughout England because of her graceful movements. She legally changed her name to Ninette de Valois in 1921. She retired in 1926 at age 28 in order to promote ballet throughout Europe. In 1935 she founded Sadler's Wells Ballet, which became London's Royal Ballet.
De Valois was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1950, and was made Dame of the British Empire in 1951. She continued to make public appearances until her death at age 102. Rudolf Nureyev, the noted Soviet dancer, was one of her many students.