• 'Washing Day' primary childrens' dance.  Photo: Felix Fonteyn.
    'Washing Day' primary childrens' dance. Photo: Felix Fonteyn.
  • Childrens' polka.  Photo: Felix Fonteyn.
    Childrens' polka. Photo: Felix Fonteyn.
  • Fonteyn in 1972. Photo: Felix Fonteyn.
    Fonteyn in 1972. Photo: Felix Fonteyn.

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) has discovered some never-before-seen footage of former President and famed ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.

The footage, filmed in 1972 by Margot Fonteyn’s brother Felix, is a demonstration of a ballet syllabus for children (filmed in Fonteyn’s presence), which Dame Margot helped to create with a group of RAD teachers during her time as President of the Academy. In the video, she is shown introducing the demonstration and explaining the principles behind the syllabus. She is also heard encouraging the children in the video to "dance nicely".

This footage has been hidden until now in the RAD’s archives until a search was prompted by a question at an AGM. Archives and Records Manager Eleanor Fitzpatrick found a set of canisters, containing reels of 16mm film, labelled simply "Children’s Syllabus". It turned out to be the film of Margot Fonteyn, which would have been used as a training tool for RAD teachers across the globe. Due to financial reasons at the time, the RAD was never able to release the film.

Over 250,000 people around the world take an RAD ballet exam each year, using syllabi similar to this one, which have been developed by the Academy over the years. This footage shows the first time any of the RAD syllabus was recorded on film, and illustrates how involved Fonteyn was with the whole process, drawing on her experience as a celebrated ballerina to inspire young children taking their first steps in ballet. Dame Margot Fonteyn is the RAD’s longest serving President. She held this role from 1954 until her death in 1991. She was succeeded by Dame Antoinette Sibley and now, Dame Darcey Bussell, who is the RAD’s current President.

The film is available to view on the RAD Youtube channel as part the organisation's centenary celebrations. 

Other activities include a free display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 opened in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Gallery on December 2, ahead of RAD officially turning 100 on December 31 . Home to one of the largest dance collections in Europe, this is the first time that RAD has given access to its archives on this scale in its history.

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