Born in Oxford (1940), she spent her early childhood at a tea plantation in Sri Lanca. She studied theatre design at the Wimbledon School of Art and the London Slade School of Fine Art with prominent Greek set designer Nicholas Georgiadis. She began her career assisting her professor, e.g. while he devised the sceneography for the Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker in Rudolf Nureyev’s chroeography in 1968. In the same year she worked with the Stuttgart Ballet for the first time designing costumes for John Cranko’s Salade and Kenneth MacMillan’s The Sphinx.
The set and costumes she subsequently designed for Cranko’s well-known and loved ballet comedy The Taming of the Shrew in 1969 were a great success. It was then adopted by other ballet companies staging Cranko’s choreography: the Australian Ballet, La Scala, the Joffrey Ballet (at that time in New York), the Royal Ballet, the Ballet of Santiago de Chile, the Bolshoi, and the Polish National Ballet (in the 2015/16 season). She went on to work with Cranko on revivals of his earlier ballets: Dafnis et Chloé, Pineapple Poll, and The Lady and the Fool. She also devised an alternative set design for his famous Onegin, later featured on many stages (including the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera), alternating with the original scenography by Jürgen Rose.
Elisabeth Dalton also worked on opera productions, developing a long-lasting creative relationship with the famous opera director and producer John Cox. She designed the set and costumes for his production of Mozart’s oepra Il re pastore staged in Salzburg (1989). She also designed costumes for Giselle as choreographed by Marcia Haydée (Stuttgart Ballet, 1989) and the set for Richard Rodgers’ musical On Your Toes featuring Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun in the leading roles (1990). She died in her home town of Chichester in Sussex (2004).
Photo by Stephen Broadbent