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Algeranoff, Harcourt [real name Harcourt Algernon Leighton Essex] (1903–1967), dancer and ballet master, was born in London on 18 April 1903, the son of Thomas Richard Essex, a sculptor, and his wife, Alice Kendall. He was named Harcourt Algernon Leighton Essex. He dropped his original name and assumed that of ...

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Ashton, Sir Frederick William Mallandaine (1904–1988), choreographer and director, was born on 17 September 1904 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the fourth of the five children of George Ashton (1864–1924) and his second wife, Georgiana (1869–1939), daughter of Henry Fulcher and his wife, Edith. His father was manager of the ...

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Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton (1904–1988) by Baron, c. 1945 Getty Images – Baron

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Barnes, Clive Alexander (1927–2008), dance and drama critic, was born on 13 May 1927 at St Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth, London, the only child of Arthur Lionel Barnes (1898–1940), ambulance driver, and his wife, Freda Marguerite, née Garratt. After their divorce when Clive was seven his mother brought him up (reconciliation later on was cut short by ...

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Beaumont, Cyril William (1891–1976), dance historian and critic, was born on 1 November 1891 at 37 Stockwell Park Crescent, Lambeth, the eldest of three children of Frederick John Beaumont and his wife, Mary Henrietta Balchin. His father was an engineer and the son of an inventor, and was involved with the entertainment business as a prestidigitator and cinematographer. His mother's family had links with ...

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Blair, David [real name David Butterfield] (1932–1976), ballet dancer, was born David Butterfield on 27 July 1932 at the Royal Halifax Infirmary, Halifax, Yorkshire, the elder child and only son of John Butterfield, moquette weaver, and his wife, Zetté Carolyne Elizabeth Whiteley...

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Robert Bradley (1908–1972) by unknown photographer, 1934 [centre, in the musical Evergreen] Getty Images

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Bradley, Robert [Buddy] (1908–1972), choreographer, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on 24 July 1908, the son of Robert Louis Bradley and his wife, Georgia Marguerite, née Walker. He was educated at Harrisburg high school, and on leaving school was apprenticed as a sign writer. He made his stage début as a dancer in 1926 at the ...

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Brinson, Peter Neilson (1920–1995), writer and lecturer on dance, was born on 6 March 1920 at Sea View Villa, North Parade, Llandudno, the son of Harold Neilson Brinson, a major in the King's Liverpool regiment and cotton broker, and his wife, Vera Mabel Mathison...

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Buckle, (Christopher) Richard Sandford [Dicky] (1916–2001), ballet critic and exhibition organizer, was born on 6 August 1916 at Old Cottage, Warcop, Westmorland, the only child of Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Galbraith Buckle (d. 1918), of the Northamptonshire regiment, and his wife, Rose Evelyn, née...

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George Sainton Kaye Butterworth (1885–1916) by unknown artist, © Lebrecht Music & Arts

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Butterworth, George Sainton Kaye (1885–1916), composer and folk dancer, was born on 12 July 1885 at 16 Westbourne Square, Paddington, London, the only child of Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth (1854–1946), a solicitor and later general manager of the North Eastern Railway Company, and his wife, ...

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Joseph Knight

revised by Nilanjana Banerji

Byrne, Oscar (bap. 1796, d. 1867), ballet master, named Byrn but known as Byrne, was baptized at St Andrew's, Holborn, London, on 16 January 1796, the son of James Byrne (1756–1844), an actor and ballet master, and his wife, Lucy (d. 1845)...

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Castle, Vernon [real name Vernon William Blyth] (1887–1918), ballroom dancer, was born Vernon William Blyth on 2 May 1887 at Mill Hill Road, Heigham, near Norwich, Norfolk, the youngest in the family of four daughters and one son of William Thomas Blyth...

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Chappell, William Evelyn [Billy] (1907–1994), dancer and theatre designer, was born on 27 September 1907 in Wolverhampton, the only son of Archibald Chappell and his wife, Edith Eva Clara, née Blair-Staples. He was educated in Wolverhampton and Clapham, London, and at the Chelsea School of Art...

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William Evelyn Chappell (1907–1994) by Gordon Anthony, 1937 [as Elihu in Job by the Vic–Wells Ballet] V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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John Cyril Cranko (1927–1973) by Sir Cecil Beaton, 1956 © Cecil Beaton Archive, Sotheby's; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cranko, John Cyril (1927–1973), ballet dancer and choreographer, was born on 15 August 1927 in Rustenburg, about 60 miles from Johannesburg, South Africa, the only child of Herbert Cranko, a lawyer who later went on to practise in Johannesburg itself, and his wife, ...

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Dolin, Sir Anton [real name Sydney Francis Patrick Chippindall Healey Kay] (1904–1983), ballet dancer, was born in Slinfold, Sussex, on 27 July 1904, the second of three sons (there were no daughters) of Henry George Kay, amateur cricketer, and later master and owner of the ...

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Sir Anton Dolin (1904–1983) by Gordon Anthony, 1935 [in David by the Markova–Dolin Ballet] V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum