Sophie Fedorovitch

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Sophie Fedorovitch
Born(1893-12-03)3 December 1893
Died25 January 1953(1953-01-25) (aged 59)
London, UK
OccupationBallet, opera and theatre designer
Years active1926–1953

Sophie Fedorovitch (Belarusian: Сафія Федаровіч; 3 December 1893 – 25 January 1953)[1] was a Russian-born theatrical designer who worked with ballet choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton from his first choreographed ballet in 1926 until her accidental death in 1953.

Early life[edit]

Fedorovitch was born and raised in Minsk, Russian Empire (now Belarus) and studied painting in Kraków, Moscow, and St Petersburg. She migrated from Russia to England in 1920. She was established as a painter until she met Ashton, after which she increasingly came to devote her career to set and costume design.[2]


Ashton and Fedorovitch met in 1925, introduced by Marie Rambert, who had met her in 1921. They worked together from A Tragedy of Fashion, Ashton's first ballet in 1926.[3] Costumes and scenery were by Fedorovitch, who continued to work with Ashton for more than twenty years, and became, in his words, "not only my dearest friend but my greatest artistic collaborator and adviser".[2] As a friend and collaborator, she did most of her early works for Ashton.[4] Altogether, they collaborated on eleven works.[2]

In 1940, Fedorovitch did stage design and "simple but gorgeous costumes" for choreographer Andrée Howard's best known work La fête étrange, for London Ballet, based on an episode in Alain Fournier's novel Le Grand Meaulnes.[5] It has been performed over 200 times by The Royal Ballet, and by Scottish Ballet.

Her confidants, in addition to Ashton, included Barbara Ker-Seymer, Olivia Wyndham, Marty Mann and Lucy Norton.[6]

In her 2012 article in Research in Dance Education, Elizabeth McLean's view was that Fedorovitch had a "formative influence" on British ballet design of the 1930s and 1940s, and that she should be considered the equal of her contemporary, Christian Bérard.[7]

Fedorovitch designed for several other British choreographers including Ninette de Valois and Antony Tudor, as well as for opera and theatre. From 1951 until her death in 1953, she was a member of the artistic advisory panel of Sadler's Wells Ballet, a role she had unofficially undertaken for many years.[8]


Fedorovitch died as a result of a gas leak at her house at 22 Bury Walk, Chelsea.[1] The house, known as the "Gothic Box", was left to Simon Fleet, later mentor to fellow interior designer Nicky Haslam.[9] A memorial plaque to "Sophie Fedorovitch, costume designer" was subsequently erected there.[9]

Ashton dedicated A Month in the Country to her memory.[10]

Designs created[edit]


  1. ^ a b Grater, Adrian. "Frederick Ashton, Following the Fred Step". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Genné, Beth. "My Dearest Friend, My Greatest Collaborator – Ashton, Fedorovitch and Symphonic Variations" Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine,, accessed 23 June 2013
  3. ^ Caroline Briggs (1 June 2004), Ballet's Ashton celebrated in style, BBC News
  4. ^ "Sophie Fedorovitch". Birmingham Royal Ballet. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Bids for recognition". Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  6. ^ Fleet, Simon. "Sophie Fedorovitch". Elvira Barney. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Influences and Inspirations: The Ballet Designs of Sophie Fedorovitch". Research in Dance Education, v13 n2 p197-213. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  8. ^ Craine, Debra; Mackrell, Judith (2010). The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Oxford University Press. p. 164. ISBN 0-19-956344-6.
  9. ^ a b Haslam, Nicholas (2009). Redeeming features : a memoir (1st ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 73. ISBN 9780307271679.
  10. ^ a b "Sophie Fedorovitch". Birmingham Royal Ballet. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  11. ^ Mona Inglesby with Kay Hunter (2008). Ballet in the Blitz. Groundnut Publishing.
  12. ^ "Orpheus". MacMillan Estate. Retrieved 27 June 2013.