The Dancing Career of Nalda Murilova

by Angela Barlow

This website gives an account of the career of Nalda Murilova, who danced with the Diaghilev, Pavlova and Stroganoff ballets.

A Murilova

Born Muriel Barnett, she was given the stage name Nalda Murilova by Serge Diaghilev, when she joined his Ballets Russes in the 1920s.

As a member of the two great Russian ballet companies of the day, she was fortunate enough to work with some of the twentieth century’s most famous dancers – including Pavlova, Novikoff, Karsavina and Dolin.

Later she spent four colourful years with a very different company, the Stroganoff Ballet, until setting up a dance school with her professional partner in Amsterdam. Once war loomed she returned to the UK, where she continued to teach as a freelance; and in 1947 she founded the highly respected Murilova Ballet School, Bournemouth, where she brought the Russian method of ballet to new generations of dancers.

The Murilova Ballet School, now run by one of Madame’s ex-students, is still flourishing.


January 2015

4 thoughts on “The Dancing Career of Nalda Murilova”

  1. In 2013 I found an autographed picture postcard of Nalda Murilova among my father’s (grandmother’s) old photos and it took me on an internet journey of discovery and ultimately friendship with Angela, the author of this beautifully written biography, a stay with her and her husband at their home in Somerset, getting to know Nalda’s delightful niece in Oxford, and a meeting in Amsterdam with the granddaughter of Nalda’s Dutch dancing and business partner, Frans Muriloff, with the opportunity to see the dance school they founded together as well as their favorite haunts.

    Why has the story become so important to me? When I first googled Nalda Murilova and found Angela, she informed me that Nalda’s birth name was Muriel Barnett … and lo and behold that name was on my family tree, my grandmother’s first cousin! Why my father and grandmother never spoke of her remains a mystery and saddens me as I would have loved to have known her; from Angela’s descriptive and informative biography we plainly see what an interesting and fascinating person cousin Muriel/Nalda was and what an amazing life she led. Obviously, Angela recognized there was a (his)story that needed to be told. Thank you, Angela, for this wonderful biography.

    Barry Clarke, February 11th, 2015, now residing in Florida

  2. I am a London-based dance historian. Perhaps you know my book “Tamara Karsavina, Diaghilev’s Ballerina”. I have also spent several years tracking and documenting all of the Diaghilev dancers, cross checking programmes against company pay records. During the 1925 London season at the Coliseum, Diaghilev took on only one new dancer and she signed herself “Jois Myers”. If you think this might have been a pseudonym for Muriel Barnett, by all means let me know and I can give you a list of roles she performed.
    Andrew Foster.

  3. In addition to my note on the Diaghilev 1925 dancers, the 1926 season at His Majesty’s Theatre records a dancer identified on the programmes as “Bartovska”. The pay records refer to her a just “the English woman”. This could well be your dancer.
    Andrew Foster.

  4. I am a pupil at Murilova Ballet school (which has now recently moved to the Wimborne area) and I found this by surprise. It is awesome that people are interested in Madame Murilova
    Thank you so much for writing this!
    Find us at and on Facebook too

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