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Margot Fonteyn's connection with the Reigate School of Ballet


Shirley Knight, one of the former principals of the Reigate School of Ballet, was a ballerina with the Royal Ballet Company alongside Margot Fonteyn. Mrs Knight was part of the magical era of the Royal Ballet when it had great stars such as Rudolf Nureyev (who defected from Russia).

After her professional retirement, Shirley set up the Reigate School of Ballet with Mrs Penny Lambert and went on to develop RSB, making it one of the most successful dancing schools in the area, known for its high teaching standards and its knowledge in Ballet.

Miss Joanne Evans (the current principal), was thrilled to have known and worked alongside both Shirley and Penny, gaining invaluable teaching experience and tips from these stars. Joanne Evans (whom herself attended the prestigious Royal Ballet School) had also danced with London City Ballet and then went on to dance in various West End shows, before taking over the role of principal at the Reigate School of Ballet when Shirley and Penny retired.

"It's wonderful to have someone so influential associated with the Reigate School of Ballet and Commercial Dance - Shirley was a wonderful, kind and professional lady, who had a lovely rapour with the children. The fact that she danced alongside Margot Fonteyn (who was born in Reigate) made it even more special for the Reigate School of Ballet." (Joanne Evans)

Margot Fonteyn - a brief history



Margot Fonteyn was born in Reigate in 1919, and a statue of the great ballerina still stands today near Reigate station on the A217.

  • started ballet lessons at the age of 4

  • moved to China with her parents (age 8)

  • studied ballet in Shanghai with Russian teacher George Goncharov

  • at 14, Margot returned to London to pursue a career as a ballerina

  • joined the Vic-Wells Ballet school in 1933, which later known as the Royal Ballet School

  • performed Principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and then became Principal Ballerina for the Royal Ballet Company

  • gained her much worldwide acclaim for her role as Aurora in Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty - became a world celebrity after touring America with the Royal Ballet Company

  • worked alonside great male principals; most famously with Rudolf Nureyev and both remained friends for life

  • died in 1991, aged 71

Famous quotes:

1. "Take your work seriously, but never yourself"

2. "Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of

pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike"


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The Reigate School of Ballet and Commercial Dance continues to teach to the same high standards as when Shirley Knight started the school all the years ago. With a high calibre of teaching staff and over 100 classes per week in all forms of dance, the school continues the caring approach within the school. RSB also offers 3 free classes as standard before any obligation is made, as we want to ensure the children (and parents) are happy.

For information on classes, please contact Joanne Evans on 01737 247795 or email

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Reigate School of Ballet & Commercial Dance 
20 Clarence Road, Redhill RH1 6NG

Images courtesy of Emma Benjamin, Gareth Jones RSB and © pic-unique, © Alex White, Konstantin Yuganov, tonisalado, martanfoto, Lorelyn Medina, Laurent Hamels, © BlueOrange Studio, Carlush, Hazel Barnes Photography, xavdip, Lorraine Swanson,Alexander Iakovlev, Lorelyn Medina © eranicle - Fotolia.com. Val Liza - Shutterstock.com

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© 2017 by Gareth Jones.