Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Famous Fonteyn ballet costume undergoes inspection and conservation - photo call

Published: 20 May 2003

The famous Ondine ballet costume worn by Dame Margot Fonteyn is currently at the Textile Conservation Centre at the University of Southampton, for inspection and possibly conservation at the request of the Royal Academy of Dance, London.

The Ondine costume and the White Swan tutu from Swan Lake, both worn by Fonteyn, and owned by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), will be undergoing inspection by conservators on 22 May 2003 at the Textile Conservation Centre - and members of the press are invited to attend at 4pm.

Margot Fonteyn was President of the Royal Academy of Dance for 37 years (1954 - 1991) until her death in 1991. The costumes were then bequeathed to the RAD by her brother Felix, before being displayed in memory of her contribution to dance.

Ondine was Frederick Ashton's last three-act ballet, created in 1958 for the Royal Ballet and especially for Margot Fonteyn - prompting a description of the ballet as 'a concerto for Fonteyn'.

The story derives from Friedrich de la Motte Fouque's tale of a water-nymph who marries a mortal.

The ballet is filled with images of water and particularly of the sea. Fonteyn's role is the key focus, and one of the most fondly remembered passages is Ondine's dance with her shadow, an echo of the original Ondine ballet, written by Jules Perrot for Fanny Cerrito in 1843.

PRESS CALL - The Ondine and White Swan costumes will be unveiled for inspection at the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton, Winchester Campus, Park Avenue, Winchester, at 4pm on 22 May 2003.

Notes for editors

  1. Dame Margot Fonteyn is considered one of the most gifted ballerinas of the last century both in her classic roles and in roles created for her. Born in 1919, she spent much of her childhood in China but returned to live in England when she was 14-years-old. In 1934, at the age of 15, she joined the Vic-Wells corps de ballet - becoming its youngest member. She was prima ballerina of the Royal Ballet in 1940, and her notable performance of the Sleeping Beauty in 1946 made her an international star. Fonteyn became President of the Royal Academy of Dance in 1954 and her contribution to English ballet was officially recognized when she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1956. In 1979, the Royal Ballet granted her the rare title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta. Dame Margot gave her last performance in the early 1970s before retiring to Panama to live with her husband, Roberto de Arias. She died of cancer in 1991.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.
  3. The Textile Conservation Centre (TCC) has an international reputation for excellence in its work in conservation education, research and practice. The TCC merged with the University of Southampton in 1998 and relocated from Hampton Court Palace to a new, purpose-designed building on the University of Southampton's Winchester School of Art campus in 1999. The TCC's Patron is HRH The Princess Royal.
Privacy Settings