Anya Linden, Lady Sainsbury: Ballerina and Benefactor

Anya Linden as Aurora

Tuesday 22 January the White Lodge Museum & Ballet Resource Centre will open an important new exhibition entitled Anya Linden, Lady Sainsbury: Ballerina and Benefactor. Last Thursday, Lady Sainsbury hosted a private preview of the exhibition at White Lodge with VIP guests including Lady Sarah Chatto, Dame Monica Mason  and Sir Peter Wright.

Lady Anya Sainsbury CBE is the former ballerina of the Royal Ballet, Anya Linden. Born in Manchester, England, in 1933, she spent her childhood in California where she received her early training. Returning to England in 1947 she studied at the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School. She entered the Royal Ballet company in 1951, was promoted soloist in 1954 and danced as a Principal of the Royal Ballet from 1958-63.

Anya Linden danced all the leading classical roles and also modern ballets such as Antigone and La Fete Etrange. She created roles in MacMillan’s Noctambules 1956, Agon 1958 and Cranko’s The Prince of the Pagodas 1957. She was very beautiful and still looks many years younger than her true age today. The White Lodge Year 11 Girls are privileged to have a weekly Solo coaching session with the inspiring Lady Sainsbury. With her we have learnt Odette’s entrance from Swan Lake Act II and at present she is teaching us a Solo from Frederick Ashton’s Façade.

Anya Linden_02

Although Anya Linden retired from dancing at a relatively young age in 1965, as Lady Sainsbury she became an influential force in British ballet. Through the Linbury Trust, she and her husband have supported many projects related to Ballet, Dance and the Arts. Perhaps not many realise that ‘Linbury’ is formed from the surnames Linden and Sainsbury.

1948 Cinderella tutu

The exhibition opening at our White Lodge Museum features a wide collection of photographs from Anya Sainsbury’s private collection, and her newly restored Princess Aurora tutu from 1957, worn in Act I of the Royal Ballet’s iconic production of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Oliver Messel.

To visit Anya Linden, Lady Sainsbury: Ballerina and Benefactor it is necessary to contact White Lodge Museum in advance by telephone on 02083928440, or by email at

Photos from top: Anya Linden as Aurora in THE Sleeping Beauty, Anya Linden & Desmond Doyle in Noctambules 1956,  Anya’s 1948 Cinderella tutu

Author: Prisca

Blogging since 2012. I'm a professional dancer, undergoing a degree in Digital Marketing, and co-founder of Boleyn Factory, an independent film organisation based in Bordeaux, France.

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