British National Ballet President Dame Beryl Gray dies aged 95

Dame Beryl Gray, president and former artistic director of the British National Ballet, has died aged 95.

His company confirmed the death of Dame Beryl, who dedicated her life to the art form from her theatrical debut at the age of 15 until becoming a dame in 2005.

Sir Roger Carr, president of the British National Ballet, said: “On behalf of the company and the board, I would like to share our profound sadness at this news and extend our thanks to Dame. Beryl for her unique contributions to the British National Ballet.

“Her kindness, expertise, and commitment have left a lasting legacy both to this company and to the broader art forms.”

Dame Beryl, born 1927, made her stage debut at the age of 15 as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake after starring in Sadler’s Wells Ballet, now The Royal Ballet, in 1941, before taking on many roles during his career before becoming chairman of the group in 2005.

She became the first British dancer to guest star with Bolshoi Ballet, Kirov Ballet from 1957 to 1958 and Peking Ballet in 1964.

In 1957, she made her debut as a guest artist with the London Festival Ballet – then known for the English National Ballet – and among the works she performed with the company was Reverie, in a solo role. created just for her.

From 1968 to 1979, she served as artistic director of the London Festival Ballet, and during her tenure introduced new works to the repertoire, including asking Rudolf Nureyev to create Romeo And Juliet in 1977, the last performance in 2017 on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

In 1988 she was awarded the DBE, became Dame Beryl Grey, was honored with the CBE in 1973.

Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet from 2012 to 2022, said: “Dame Beryl has been a great source of support for me, especially during my early years as art director.

“Her knowledge of the company and her firsthand understanding, as both a dancer and an artistic leader, are invaluable. She is a beautiful artist and I will always be grateful for the generosity she has shown me.”


Ballerina Beryl Gray in Swan Lake at Covent Garden 1955 (PA)

An ENB spokesperson said: “Swan Lake is a ballet that is particularly close to her heart. We will dedicate Derek Deane’s upcoming performance of Swan Lake at the London Coliseum to Dame Beryl, in recognition of all she has done to enrich the company.

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“Our thoughts and condolences are with Dame Beryl’s family at this time.”

In addition to her role as president of the ENB, Dame Beryl is also president of the Royal Society of Dance Teachers, president of the British Ballet Foundation, vice president of the Royal Academy of Dance, Charity Foundation Music Therapy and the British and International Federation of Festivals.

She is the president of the Royal Ballet Charitable Foundation, patron of the Critics Society’s National Dance Awards and holds five honorary degrees.

When the British National Ballet moved into its new, purpose-built home, the Mulryan Dance Center, a studio named in Dame Beryl’s honor. British National Ballet President Dame Beryl Gray dies aged 95

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