Royal Academy of Dance

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is a leading International dance examination board specialising in Classical Ballet. The Academy was established in London, England in 1920 and received its Royal Charter in 1936. HM Queen Elizabeth II is currently the Royal patron of the RAD and Dame Antoinette Sibley has served as President since 1991.

The RAD was initially formed with the objective to improve the standard of Classical Ballet training in the UK. It has since grown to become one of the Worlds leading dance education and training organisations, with over 13,000 members, operating in 79 countries Worldwide. There are currently over 1,000 students in full-time or part-time teacher training programmes with the Academy and each year, the examination syllabus is taught to more than a quarter of a million students worldwide.

The RAD consists of both a registered charity and a commercial division known as Royal Academy of Dance Enterprises.

History of the RAD

On July 18 1920, Philip Richardson, then Editor of 'Dancing Times' magazine, organised a dinner for eminent dance professionals at the former Trocadero Restaurant in Piccadilly. The diners included five special guests representing what are recognised as the leading methods of Classical Ballet training.

* Phyllis Bedells - English Method
* Lucia Cormani - Italian Method
* Edouard Espinosa - French Method
* Adeline Genée - Bournonville Method, Denmark
* Tamara Karsavina - Imperial Method, Russia

Other guests included Ninette de Valois, the founder of England's Royal Ballet company, and Anton Dolin, the co-founder of English National Ballet. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the poor quality of dance training in Britain at that time and following further meetings, the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain was formed, with Adeline Genee as its first President. The Association would be the predecessor of the Royal Academy of Dance.

In 1921, the Association established headquarters at the offices of 'Dancing Times' magazine in London and the first Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced level examinations were held in the years that followed, with the first Children's syllabus being published and then examined in 1923 and 1924. In 1927 a scholarship scheme was introduced for students studying dance with an Association member and in 1928, HM Queen Mary consented to become Patron of the 'Association of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain'.

In November 1930, the first issue of 'Dance Gazette' was published containing a historical review of the Association's first ten years. 'Dance Gazette' is still the official magazine of the RAD, being distributed bi-monthly to all fully paid members. In 1931, the first Genee International Ballet Competition for female dancers was held in London. The competition is now one of the most prestigious dance competitions in the World, with awards for male dancers being introduced later in 1939. In 1934, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden agreed to an alliance with the Association and a Grand Council of prestigious men & women was formed to act as a governing body to advise the Executive Committee.

In 1935, HM King George V approved a Royal Charter for the 'Association of Operatic Dancing. The charter was eventually stamped with the Royal Seal in 1936, and the Association of Operatic Dancing officially became the 'Royal Academy of Dancing' (RAD). The following year in 1937, a coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms in London.

In 1950, founder President of the RAD Adeline Genée received a Royal Honour, being appointed a Dame of the British Empire (DBE). Further honours were awarded to members of the Academy in 1951, with Ninette de Valois being appointed a Dame, Philip Richardson being awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Margot Fonteyn being appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE). Following the death of Queen Mary in 1953, HM Queen Elizabeth II consented to become the Royal Patron of the Royal Academy of Dancing and Dame Adeline Genée instituted the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award to mark the occasion. The award is presented annually to an individual, for outstanding services to ballet and the first recipient was Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of England's Royal Ballet Company. There have been many notable winners of the award:

* Sir Frederick Ashton CBE - Founder Choreographer of the Royal Ballet
* Dame Beryl Grey DBE - Former Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and International guest ballerina
* Sir Anthony Dowell CBE - Former Principal dancer and Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet
* Maina Gielgud AO - British Ballerina and former Company/Artistic Director of various International ballet companies
* Gillian Lynne CBE - Former Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and later an Internationally renowned theatre Director/Choreographer
* Sir Kenneth MacMillan CBE - Former dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet
* Dame Alicia Markova DBE - The first British Prima Ballerina and co-founder of English National Ballet
* Rudolf Nureyev - Russian ballet dancer who defected the USSR, joining the Royal Ballet then Paris Opera Ballet. Formed a famous partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn.
* Dame Marie Rambert DBE - Renowned dancer and teacher. Founder of the Ballet Rambert, the oldest established ballet company in the UK. Also founded the Rambert Ballet School.
* Anya, Lady Sainsbury - Former dancer with the Royal Ballet, Ballet Coach and Governor of the Royal Ballet School. Wife of Baron John Sainsbury.
* Sir Peter Wright - Former choreographer of the Royal Ballet

Dame Adeline Genée retired as President of the Royal Academy in 1954 and Dame Margot Fonteyn was appointed as her successor. The leading Principal dancer of the Royal Ballet at that time and considered the greatest Ballerina of her generation, Fonteyn was later appointed as Britain's Prima Ballerina Assoluta by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1963, the Academy was granted charitable status. In 1965, the first RAD summer school was held at the Elmhurst Ballet School in Camberley, Surrey. Teachers and dancers attended the summer school from the USA, Canada, New Zealand as well as the UK. In 1968, Dame Margot Fonteyn devised a new children’s syllabus.

On the 23rd April 1970, Founder President of the Academy, Dame Adeline Genée died at the age of 92 and In 1972, the RAD moved into its current headquarters in Battersea Square, London. The building was fully refurbished to provide high qulity dance facilities and was officially opened by the Queen in 1974. The following year in 1975, the Academy established the 'Professional Dancer's Teaching Diploma' an intensive course for professional ballet dancers and other dance professionals to gain registered teacher status with the Academy and in 1976, the Academies teacher training schemes were organised into what is now officially the 'College of the Royal Academy of Dance'.

In 1979, a new bursary was founded and named after Phyllis Bedells, a founder member and former vice-president of the Academy. The bursary of £1000, is for further training in the Academy’s method and is awarded to a student that the judges feel would be likely to succeed in a career in professional dance. Competitors for the bursary take class with a renowned teacher at RAD headquarters in London, learning various repertoire and variations. They then perform for a judging panel and audience before the prizes are awarded.

In 1983, the RAD opened its first International headquarters in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia. Since that time, the RAD has opened offices Worldwide, including offices in Brazil, China, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America,

In 1990, a new studio complex was opened at RAD headquarters in London. Titled the 'Fonteyn Centre', it was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II. The following year in 1991, Dame Margot Fonteyn died on the 21st February in Panama City and Dame Antoinette Sibley was elected as the RAD's third President. Also in 1991, the current 'Graded Examination Syllabus' was introduced, with Grades 6, 7 and 8 being introduced later in 1992. The three year teacher training course was also amended in 1992, being replaced by the RAD's first full time Degree qualification, the BA (Hons) Art & Teaching of Ballet.

The RAD celebrated it's 75th Anniversary in 1995, the event being marked by events throughout the world. In 1996, RAD President Dame Antoinette Sibley was appointed a Dame in the Queen's New Year Honours List and the Academies' first 12 Degree students attended their graduation at Durham Castle. In 1997, the Benesh Institute was incorporated into the RAD and in 1999, The 'Faculty of Education' was established with further teaching qualifications being launched, validated by the University of Durham.

On 20 December 2000, the RAD officially adopted its current title, "Royal Academy of Dance" and in the same year, qualifications were established for students studying 'Benesh Movement Notation'.

Style & Technique

The style of ballet that forms the basis of the RAD syllabus has become recognised Internationally as the English style of ballet. This style of ballet formed when the founders of the RAD merged their respective methods (Italian, French, Danish and Russian), to create a new method that would demand a high technical standard from students.

The most identifiable aspect of the RAD method is the attention to detail when learning the basic technique of ballet and the progression in difficulty is often very slow. Whilst the difficulty of an exercise may only increase slightly from grade to grade, more importance is placed on whether the student is performing the step with a greater degree of technique. For example, plie exercises follow an almost identical setting throughout the lower grades, however this is done to enable the student to steadily deepen the plie and improve the turnout. The principle behind this is that if enough time is spent achieving the maximum level of technique before introducing new vocabulary, the easier it is for the student to learn the harder steps, whilst working the basic technique to the maximum at all times.


From the 1st October 2006, the RAD began a new association with the International Dance Teachers Association, a dance organisation based in Brighton, England. A press release issued to members of each organisation stated that "the two organisations would embark on a process of working together for the future of dance and to the mutual benefit of their members in both teacher education and training and examinations".

As a result of this association, registered teachers of the RAD are admitted to membership of the theatre branch of the IDTA and vice versa, teachers of the IDTA theatre branch are admitted to membership of the RAD in the capacity of 'Mutually Recognised Teacher'. Whilst the new association is not a meger, it is intended that it will develop co-operation between the two organisations and mutual recognition of the training and qualifications that they both provide. It is also expected that in the future, both the IDTA and RAD will begin to work together, providing new training and development opportunities for members and students of both organisations.

Famous alumni

* Michelle Yeoh - actress
* Beatriz Luengo - actress,singer and dancer.Ballet Schools & Companies - Many vocational dance schools will offer their students the opportunity to take vocational examinations with the RAD, meaning that many professional dancers with some of the World's leading ballet companies will also be alumni of the RAD. (Although it is important to note that the RAD is not connected with any ballet school or company). These vocational dance schools include:
* Royal Ballet School
* Elmhurst School for Dance
* English National Ballet School
* Central School of Ballet
* The Arts Educational School, Tring Park
* The Hammond School
* Ballet West (Scotland)

Training Programmes

The Royal Academy of Dance offers two training programmes or syllabi, which are suitable for both male and female students and form the basis of the RAD's work in the UK and overseas. Each programme represents a complete system of dance training and include a series of progressively more difficult practical examinations.
* Graded Examination Syllabus
* Vocational Graded SyllabusAll examinations offered by the RAD are accredited to the 'QCA' in England, the 'DELLS' in Wales and the 'CCEA' in Northern Ireland. These organisations are the Government approved qualifications regulator for their respective countries. Candidates who successfully pass an RAD examination may submit their results for credit on the National Qualifications Framework.

Graded Examination Syllabus

The Graded Examination Syllabus consists of 10 grades, each incorporating classical ballet, free movement and character dance. The syllabus is devised to progress in difficulty from one grade to the next and a student studying the grades in sequence would be expected to develop a greater degree of dance technique at each level.

* Classical Ballet is one of the most widespread dance forms in the World. Originating in the Italian royal courts of the Renaissance period, over hundreds of years it has been developped into a highly technical dance form. Ballet is the foundation of the RAD's work and is the most important part of the Graded Syllabi.
* Free Movement is the term applied to movement from dance styles such as natural movement, contemporary and Classical Greek dance. Free movement does not have to include codified dance vocabulary and is usually an improvisation based on the students interpretation of a piece of music or stimulus.
* Character Dance is an integral part of classical ballet repertoire. It is the stylised representation of a traditional folk dance, normally from a European country and uses movements and music which have been adapted for the theatre. The RAD syllabus uses character dances based on Hungarian, Russian and Polish folk dance.

Students who have studied a complete grade from the syllabus will normally take an examination organised by their dance teacher and held at the teachers studio or a suitable venue hired for the occasion. In the examination, the students perform the relevant grade work for an RAD examiner, who assesses the artistic and technical execution of the grade. A successful candidate receives a certificate printed with their name and the grade passed. They also receive a report detailing what marks were awarded and highlighting which aspects of their performance need further improvement. Unsuccessful candidates receive a report and a certificate of participation. The Pre-Primary grade is devised for younger students who are not old enough to enter the Primary examination. There is no examination offered at this level, however students can take part in a Presentation Class.

Presentation Classes were introduced for students who a dance teacher feels may not benefit from, or be suitable for taking the series of examinations. In a Presentation Class, in contrast to an examination, the teacher and a small audience of spectators are present in the room. The students perform for an examiner but are not assessed. They dance a condensed selection of exercises from the appropriate grade and receive a certificate of participation, which is normally presented by the examiner at the end of the class.

As a syllabus devised specifically with children in mind, examinations are not compulsory and the entry level of a new student would be decided by the dance teacher based upon the childs age, natural ability for dance or previous examination passes either with another dance school or dance examination board, such as the IDTA or ISTD.

The Grades Are:
* "Pre-Primary - 5 years and over (not examined)"
* Primary - 6 years and over
* Grade 1 - 7 years and over
* Grade 2 - 7 years and over
* Grade 3 - 7 years and over
* Grade 4 - 7 years and over
* Grade 5 - 7 years and over
* Grade 6 - 11 years and over
* Grade 7 - 11 years and over
* Grade 8 - 11 years and over

Vocational Graded Syllabus

The Vocational Graded Syllabus is designed primarily for older children or young adults who are considering a career in professional dance, as a performer, teacher or in another capacity. The vocational syllabus is technically demanding and comprises only Classical Ballet and Pointe Work. Students choosing to study this series of awards are required to be competent in the fundamentals of ballet technique and movement vocabulary.

Unlike the Graded Examination Syllabus, the vocational grades have to be studied in sequence and the student must successfully pass an examination at each level before progressing onto the next. All vocational examinations are organised by RAD headquarters and instead of being held at a dance teachers own venue, they are held in major cities Worldwide. In this situation, the session organiser is responsible for timetabling the examinations, and it is normal for students to dance alongside the students of other dance schools in the examination room. As with the graded syllabus, successful candidates receive a certificate personalised with their name and the level passed. They also receive a report, however for this series of examinations, there is a different marking system and assessment criteria.

Students studying the vocational syllabus are expected to achieve a high level of technical and artistic ability in ballet and it can take a great deal of time and commitment to reach the standard required to pass these examinations. Normally, a student will begin studying the Vocational Graded Syllabus after completing Grade 5 in the Graded Examination Syllabus, however some students will continue to study the graded syllabus at the same time. The Intermediate Foundation and Advanced Foundation examinations are the only optional exams in this series of awards. They are devised for students who the teacher feels may need more preparation before studying at the higher level, however they are assessed in the same way, certificates awarded in the same way and credits awarded on the National Qualifications Framework.

The Vocationsl Grades Are:
* "Intermediate Foundation - 11 years and over (non compulsory)"
* Intermediate - 12 years and over
* "Advanced Foundation - 13 years and over (non compulsory)"
* Advanced 1 - 14 years and over
* Advanced 2 - 15 years and over
* Solo Seal- Must hold their Advanced 2 with distinction'

See also

* Ballet
* Benesh Movement Notation

External links

* [ Royal Academy of Dance] UK
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Canada
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] United States
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Australia
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] New Zealand
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] South Africa
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Brazil
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Germany
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Italy
* [ Royal Academy of Dance] Norway, Denmark and Sweden
* [ Radacadabra] RAD website for children aged five to ten

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