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Margaret Dale

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Margaret Dale, dancer with Sadler’s Wells Ballet and BBC Television producer of dance programmes, has died at the age of 87.

Dale was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on December 30, 1922 and studied ballet at Sadler’s Wells School from 1937-9, before joining the Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1939, making her debut as the Child in Ninette de Valois’ ballet The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Dale danced a wide repertoire, including works by Marius Petipa, Michel Fokine, Leonide Massine, Frederick Ashton, Robert Helpmann and Roland Petit. In 1953, before the end of her career as a dancer, she choreographed The Great Detective for Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet.

In 1954, Dale began working with the BBC, where she presented a wide range of dance companies while they were visiting London and from 1957, recorded established ballets in the studio. She made a number of important recordings of the Bolshoi.

In 1961, Dale signed a contract to record nine ballets performed by the Royal Ballet over three years, enabling her to document one of the most exciting periods in that company’s history. In her first decade as a producer and director, she focused on presenting and creating ballets, aiming to express “as much of the feeling of the stage production as is possible on the small screen”. During her second decade she also made a series of documentaries on aspects of dance.

Dale left the BBC in 1976 to teach and undertake research, spending considerable time in Canada, where in 1976, she was appointed Chair of York University’s Department of Dance.

She died on January 28.

Gavin Roebuck

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