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Illinois Ballet records

Identifier: Dance-MS-Illinois Ballet

Scope and Content of the Collection

The two main components of the Illinois Ballet records are many performance photographs and a collection of yearly programs together with newspaper and magazine clippings of reviews and publicity.

The small amount of miscellaneous material consists of a company history and its structure, a few letters to Richard Ellis with copies of his requested letters of recommendation, performance and repertoire listings, a few financial worksheets, and a list of school lectures and demonstrations. Also, five 78 rpm recordings of music for teaching, a collection of sheet music used in performances, and 23 posters, 1959-1968.


  • Creation: 1959-1972



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Illinois Ballet records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Illinois Ballet records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

History of The Illinois Ballet

Chicago ballet company, 1959-1972.

The Illinois Ballet was founded by dancers Richard Ellis and Christine Du Boulay in 1959. Richard Ellis joined the Vic-Wells Ballet (later the Sadler's Wells Ballet) in 1933 as a teenager. He remained with the evolving company until 1952, creating many roles in the ballets of Frederick Ashton, Ninette de Valois and others. During service with the Royal Navy from 1940 to 1945, he danced with the company whenever leave permitted. Upon returning to private life, Ellis met Christine Du Boulay, who had trained in the Sadler's Wells School of Ballet and danced as soloist with England's International Ballet for three years. They were married in 1947. Du Boulay achieved soloist ranking and they both toured the United States with the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1949 and 1950.

After the last tour, the pair decided to live in America, and they chose Chicago as their home. Ellis and Du Boulay opened their own studio and here ran the Ellis-Du Boulay School of Ballet for the succeeding 40 years. Then in 1959 they founded their own company, the Illinois Ballet. The company, with a roster of four soloists and a corps of ten, toured the Chicago area and staged several seasons each year at the Athenaeum Theatre until 1972. The repertory, consisting of classic works as well of those by dancer/choreographers Hy Somers and Dom Orejudos (a.k.a. Etienne), included the only American company presentation of Frederick Ashton's Façade. Among the company's guest artists were Ruth Ann Koesun and Eric Braun. In addition to its regular seasons and local tours and dance demonstrations, Illinois Ballet made a number of appearances on Chicago's public television station.


3.3 Linear Feet (3 boxes and 3 oversize boxes)


The Illinois Ballet was founded in 1959 by two former Sadler's Wells ballet dancers, Richard Ellis and Christine Du Boulay. The company presented several seasons of performances per year until its demise in 1972. The company remained constant with four soloists and ten corps members, and included two dancer/choreographers, Hy Somers and Dom Orejudos (aka Etienne). Collection consists of numerous performance photographs, programs and publicity material, a few pieces of correspondence and office records, 78 rpm recordings, sheet music and posters.


Arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

3a 49 13


Gift, Richard Ellis and Christine Du Boulay, 1994, 1998.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2012.

Inventory of the Illinois Ballet records, 1959-1972
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States