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4th April, 2023

Kingston University’s Dorich House Museum partners with The Royal Ballet School to launch sculpture trail exploring history of ballet and connections to sculptor Dora Gordine


Kingston University’s Dorich House Museum has launched a new sculpture trail, Spirit of the Ballet, showcasing selected works from The Royal Ballet School’s Special Collections at White Lodge in Richmond Park alongside sculpture by Dora Gordine.

Dance had a longstanding influence on the life and work of Gordine, who designed Dorich House as her ideal living and working environment. The acclaimed sculptor regularly attended ballet performances in London and reportedly practised ballet as a form of exercise.

Within the Dorich House collections, Gordine’s interest in ballet is reflected in her drawings of student ballet dancers, her portrait heads, and her commercially successful Spirit of the Ballet series of the 1940s, examples of which are on display in the trail.

“Working with The Royal Ballet School has been a fantastic opportunity.” Dr Fiona Fisher, curator at Dorich House Museum said. “Through this partnership, we’ve been able to make Gordine’s interest in ballet more visible to visitors and use the School’s wonderful archive to further explore her ballet connections.”  

Renowned British ballet dancer and former student of The Royal Ballet School Dame Darcey Bussell recently spoke about her life in dance at Dorich House, drawing on her own experience as a dancer and her knowledge of the history of the ballet to enthral the audience with her recollections of dancers such as Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Dame Beryl Grey, whose portraits feature in the trail.

Gordine’s small ballet figure Bluebird is also part of the trail. While the title of the figure suggests a link to Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet The Sleeping Beauty, Dame Darcey has identified its pose as being closely related to a sequence of leaps from the ballet Le Corsaire.   

“It was fascinating to hear an acclaimed dancer respond to Gordine’s work,” Dr Fisher said. “It demonstrates the value that bringing specific knowledge of ballet as an art form and its history can have in generating insights into the Dorich House collections and opening new avenues for research.” 

Anna Meadmore, Manager of Special Collections at The Royal Ballet School, expressed her excitement at the collaboration. “It’s been great to see how placing the School’s ballet sculptures alongside the work of Dora Gordine has prompted fresh conversations about the historic connections between sculpture and choreography,” she said. 

The Spirit of the Ballet sculpture trail is running at Dorich House Museum until Saturday 29 April.

Dorich House Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Gordine’s paintings, drawings and sculpture, as well as material relating to the life and research of her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature.  

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