The History of Legat

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Nikolai Gustavovich Legat was a dancer with the Russian Imperial Ballet from 1888 to 1914 who also danced with the Mariinsky Ballet.

Legat's wife, Nadine, was Prima Ballerina of the Imperial and State theatres of Moscow and St. Petersburg and choreographed dances based on the Movement Exercises of Gurdjieff.

Nicolai and Nadine Legat left Russia at the time of the Revolution and Nicolai opened The Legat Dance Studio in Colet Gardens in 1923.

There he and Nadine trained students including Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Alan Carter, Ana Roje, Joy Camden, Cleo Nordi, Barbara Vernon, John Gregory and Andre Eglevsky.

After Nikolai’s death in 1937, Nadine took over the studio and trained dancers including Anneliese von Oettingen before the outbreak of War in 1939, when she took a handful of young pupils away from the dangers of the city to Seer Green in Buckinghamshire.

The founding of The Legat School of Dance saw Nadine create the first ballet boarding school in the United Kingdom, with the school relocating to site of St Joseph’s College in Mark Cross in the 1970s; along the way, the School trained alumni including the likes of Eunice Bartell, Pearl Gaden, Anna Lendrum, Hans Meister and Laverne Meyer.

In 1990, the Legat School of Dance moved to Wadhurst College in Kent before moving one final time, in 1999, to Bede’s when Wadhurst College merged with Bellerby’s.

Under then-Director of Dance Wendy Vincent Smith and her successors Mary Goodhew (2008-2011) and Elaine Holland (2011-2015), Legat’s syllabus has increasingly moved towards a classical and contemporary dance repertoire; pupils receive jazz and musical theatre classes as well as core strength and body conditioning, and also complete their RAD examinations.

In recent years, Legat dancers have moved on to prestigious dance schools including Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, Laines Theatre Arts School, The Central School of Speech and Drama, The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.