Posted on 17th October 2019

Valerie Adams FRAD 1935-2019

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that Valerie Adams FRAD died earlier this week.

Valerie was an alumna of the School and the founder of our Teachers’ Training Course in 1964. Her legacy will live on at the School as her work continues to inspire our great teachers.

Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

About Valerie Adams

Valerie Adams trained under Elizabeth Collins and Ida Stewart at the Wessex School of Dancing, Bournemouth, until the age of 16. During those formative years she experienced a range of dance styles, studying for her RAD ballet and ISTD Greek examinations, and performing in local festivals.

She also took occasional classes in London, with Vera Volkova, Phyllis Bedells, Noreen Bush and other renowned teachers. In her final year at the Wessex School, Adams gained her RAD Solo Seal certificate, aged 15, and began to attend special classes given by Ninette de Valois at the Sadler’s Wells School in London.

She was duly accepted into the Upper School, and soon found herself studying during the day while performing small parts with the Covent Garden Ballet and Opera Companies at night. In 1953, she joined the Sadler’s Wells (later Royal Ballet) Company not long before it embarked on its third tour of the USA and Canada, visiting 26 cities over five months on a train dubbed the ‘Sadler’s Wells Special’. Adams later recalled that on her return to England she was so exhausted she slept for almost three days!

Photo (click to expand): Valerie Adams in 1953, when she was a member of Sadler’s Wells Ballet on tour in the USA © 1953 Maurice Seymour 

By 1955, Adams had begun to feel that teaching was her true vocation; she approached de Valois, who thought she was still ‘far too young’ to teach, but relented when she saw that Adams was determined. De Valois not only advised her to observe all the ballet classes at the School, but also gave Adams detailed personal tuition whenever she sat in on one of her own lessons.

Just eight months later, in September 1955, Adams became a ‘Junior Teacher’ at the School, on a modest salary of £2.00 per week. However, within months Adams was unexpectedly called into the office of Arnold Haskell, the School’s director; he explained that the Dutch Government was hoping to start a national ballet school at the Conservatoire of Music in The Hague, and had requested the help of a teacher from the Sadler’s Wells School.

Haskell suggested that she should go; she accepted with de Valois’ blessing, and then spent five and a half successful years in Holland, becoming the founding Principal of the Ballet School of the Royal Koninklijk Conservatorium (1956-61). In 2007, Valerie Adams attended the 50th anniversary of the world-renowned School she had established half a century before.

A few months after she had returned to the UK from Holland in 1962, Adams re-joined the staff of The Royal Ballet School, where another opportunity awaited her: in 1963, de Valois outlined a new scheme to start a teacher training course, and asked Adams to assist her with the development and delivery of the project.

The following year, in 1964, the course began, and soon expanded from two to three years of full-time study. In 1968 Adams officially became de Valois’ Assistant on the Craftsman’s Course, and when it was renamed the Teachers’ Training Course in 1971, she was made Director, a post she held for almost thirty years. From 1981, a one-year Course for ex-professional dancers was also offered.

Photo (click to expand): The 1995 Teacher Training Course Graduation and Miss Adams’ retirement with the flags of all the countries where the Teacher Training Course graduates were teaching. Left to right - in white is Hope Keelan, Lynn Wallis, Pamela May, Miss Adams and Ninette de Valois is seated.

Although the closure of these courses in 2000 was finally necessitated by the relocation of the Upper School to Covent Garden, they left an extraordinary legacy – a significant network of 324 graduates teaching to Miss Adams’ exacting standards around the globe.

It was a source of great pride that most of the ‘TTC’ graduates were presented with their Royal Ballet School Teaching Diplomas by de Valois herself, who made a point of attending every annual graduation she could, saying they were among ‘the happiest days in her calendar’ each year. It was also a mark of her personal regard, affection and gratitude for Valerie Adams, whose years of dedicated work had made such an enormous contribution to excellence in ballet training, both in England and abroad.

Photo (click to expand): The 1995 Teacher Training Course Graduation and Miss Adams’ retirement – Miss Adams with Ninette de Valois (then aged 97)

Valerie Adams’ funeral will take place in a private ceremony. In lieu of flowers she has requested donations to The Royal Ballet School. To make a donation in Valerie's name, please use our online donation form and in the notes section please include the line 'In memory of Valerie Adams' and any other tributes you wish to add.

 

15 thoughts on “Valerie Adams FRAD 1935-2019

  1. Miss Adam’s was a fantastic inspiration to me … 3 wonderful (albeit very tough ) years of my life which formed my 40 plus teaching career during which I constantly hear and use all the sayings, corrections that she said to us ….. a lovely lady who had a tremendous impact on my teaching career. RIP Miss Adams

  2. Miss Adams was a wonderful supporter of the Bournemouth Music Competitions Festival. We have a specific award for a ballet class in her name which she always took the time and trouble to come and watch. She will be sadly missed by all of us here in Bournemouth.

  3. I just cannot believe all your sad news. Valerie Adams has died too. Miss Adams with Madam De Valois created the Teaching Course and will be sadly missed by all her students. Miss Adams was very precise in her style and approach to teaching which was one of her many gifts and made me very determined and confident to climb higher in my dancing and teaching career. Thank you so much Miss Adams

  4. So much grattitude felt towards this amazing lady. Thank you Miss Adams for so graciously coming out of retirement to see our class, the last TTC graduating class of 2000, through. You taught us all so very much. Rest well and fly high with ‘V for Victory’ wings! Much love, Leanne Kidd (nee McIndoe)

  5. How very sad to hear that Valerie died. I have warm memories of her and her classes at the Royal Ballet School in 1961. I loved her sharp mischievous sense of humour as well. She was a lovely woman and I’m grateful to have had her as a teacher.

  6. My deepest condolences to Miss Adams’s Family . It is my sadness to learn of her past. I had an oppertunity to have a long conversation with her last January and promised to visit her during my next trip to UK. We lost one of the greatest teacher. My Fond memory of Ms. Adams who always so kind and help me through the course will always be remembered . with loves and respect . Rest in peace. XXXX

  7. Miss Adams was a wonderful elegant lady . She gave us charm , confidence, and most of all our knowledge of Dance.
    She will never be forgotten.

  8. Dear Miss Adams was my and my contemporaries ‘ world for three years . She guided and drove us through our daily classes, coached us through our RAD major examinations, taught us all she knew , was graceful and elegant to the nth degree, and gave us detailed make up classes, who will ever forget the way she could draw eyebrows with the skill of Leonardo, and we loved her. I spent my entire teaching career being Miss Adams and today is a very sad day for the dancing world. She will forever be remembered by the fortunate few whom she taught.

  9. I am so deeply saddened to hear this, Miss Adams was my inspiration and still is to my teaching career. Her memories and her ways of guidance and teaching I will keep with me for ever. RIP Miss Adams x

  10. Sad news indeed. Miss Adams was an inspirational teacher and wonderful mentor. I will always be proud to have been trained at the RBS on her wonderful course.

  11. Val was a big part of my sister Hope’s life. She always spoke lovingly of her when she was home to visit. We are all sorry for your loss.

  12. I am so saddened to hear this news, Miss Adams was an amazing teacher and an extraordinary person. She taught me from 1987-1990 and they were the toughest and most rewarding years of my professional life and also where I made my deepest and most lasting friendships. I remember her every day when I teach and am forever grateful for the knowledge and inspiration she gave me.

  13. I will always remember Miss Adams with fondness and it was so wonderful that thanks to our wonderful organisers of our teachers course, we were able to see her every year, and keep in touch. God bless you and all our teachers at the Royal Ballet School.

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