Royal Ballet School

Infobox UK school
name = Royal Ballet School

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motto = "Strength and Grace"
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established = 1931
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closed =
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type = Independent
religion =
president =
head_label = Director
head = Gailene Stock
AM, ARAD, Grad Dip Ed
r_head_label = Asst. Director
r_head = Jay Jolley
BA (Hons), Dip RBS
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chair =
founder = Ninette de Valois
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specialist = Classical Ballet
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city = London
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country = United Kingdom flagicon|UK
postcode =
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staff =
enrollment =
gender = Coeducational
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 19
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website =
website_name = Official Website

The Royal Ballet School is a specialist, co-educational school based in London, England. Located in premises at White Lodge, Richmond Park and Floral Street in Covent Garden, the school is recognised as one of the worlds leading institutions for Classical Ballet training. The school exists exclusively for the training of professional ballet dancers and has direct links with both The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, with many graduates also working professionally in musical theatre, contemporary and jazz dance.


In 1926, the Irish born dancer Ninette de Valois founded the "Academy of Choreographic Art", a dance school for girls and the predecessor of today's Royal Ballet School. Her intention was to form a repertory ballet company and school, leading her to collaborate with the English theatrical producer and theatre owner Lilian Baylis.

Baylis owned the Old Vic theatre and acquired Sadler's Wells theatre in 1925. In 1928, she engaged de Valois to stage dance performances at both theatres and she re-opened Sadler's Wells theatre in 1931, with de Valois' school moving into studios on the site. The school became the Vic-Wells Ballet School teaching both boys and girls and at the same time, the Vic-Wells Ballet Company was formed using students of the school and other notable dancers of the era. Both the school and the ballet company developed quickly, becoming established at Sadler's Wells theatre as the Sadler's Wells Ballet School and Company. In 1946, the company moved to become the resident ballet company at the newly re-opened Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and as a result, in 1947 the school moved from Sadler’s Wells Theatre to premises in Barons Court, with academic education being introduced for younger students.

Following rapid expansion, in 1955 the school secured the premises at White Lodge in Richmond Park, London. This was established as the Royal Ballet Lower School, a residential boarding school for children aged 11-16, combining general education and vocational ballet training. The Royal Ballet Upper School was established at the schools existing premises in Barons Court, with students studying ballet on a full time basis between the ages of 16-19.

In October 1956, a Royal Charter was granted officially linking the ballet company and school and they became the Royal Ballet School and Royal Ballet Company. A second smaller company still performed at Sadler's Wells and toured around the UK and this became the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet. In 1990, the Sadler's Wells company moved to become the resident ballet company at the Birmingham Hippodrome, in Birmingham, where it was renamed Birmingham Royal Ballet, forming a new association with the Elmhurst School for Dance in 2002.

In January 2003, the Royal Ballet Upper School moved to a newly constructed studio complex in Floral Street, adjacent to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, where the Royal Ballet remains the resident ballet company. A bridge was constucted between the school and the Opera House, linking the school with the theatre and the Royal Ballet Companies own studios. The designer of the bridge received an architectural award and it is known as the "Bridge of Aspiration".

Lower School

Since 1955, the Royal Ballet Lower School has been based at White Lodge, Richmond Park in London, England. The Georgian building is a former royal residence and hunting lodge built during the reign of King George II. The building is the lower school's permanent premises and there has been extensive redevelopment of the site to provide state of the art dance and academic facilities and accommodation for students.

The Lower School is where most Royal Ballet School students begin their training. Children attend the school between the ages of 11-16 and entry to the school is by audition only. The school receives hundreds of applications every year and holds auditions in a number of major UK cities including London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. Having an International reputation in ballet, the school also receives applications from a number of countries around the world, including America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa, plus many countries in Europe. As the school is a residential boarding school, the majority of students live in accommodation on site, although there are a number of day-students who travel to the school on a daily basis.

Students at the Lower School undertake both dance and academic training. In dance, students study classical ballet, character dance, contemporary, gymnastics, Irish, Morris and Scottish dancing. Later in their training, students study ballet repertoire, solos and pas de deux and boys undertake upper body conditioning. The school offers academic study at the level of a typical secondary school, both at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4, with all students sitting GCSE examinations.

Upper School

Since January 2003 The Royal Ballet Upper School has been located in new premises in Floral Street, Covent Garden. The complex is a four-storey building with 6 state of the art dance studios, including a studio theatre with retractable raked seating for an audience of 200. The building also houses changing rooms and showers for male and female students, a gym and fitness room, a pilates studio, physiotherapy suite and students common room. Facilities for academic education include four classrooms, a library with computer equipment, an art studio and audiovisual suite. All the dance studios are linked to the audiovisual suite so that classes and rehearsals can be filmed as a training tool, enabling the dancers to analyse themselves. The primary aim of the Upper Schools is for students to gain a place in the Royal Ballet or other leading UK ballet companies, such as Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. Whilst many dancers achieve employment with leading companies in the UK, many of students of the school find work with various ballet, contemporary and dancer companies worldwide. Alongside a timetable of intensive ballet training, students also study Pas de deux, Solos, Repertoire, Character, Contemporary, Stagecraft, and make-up, with male students doing body conditioning and weight training. 3rd year students compete for work experience placements with the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and a touring group.

Notable alumni

*Helen Anker
*Hetty Baynes
*Leanne Benjamin
*David Bintley, CBE
*Deborah Bull, CBE
*Darcey Bussell, OBE
*Michael Clark
*Simone Clarke
*Alina Cojocaru
*Cheryl Cole
*Lesley Collier, CBE
*Adam Cooper
*Jonathan Cope, CBE;
*Daniel DeBourg
*Sir Anthony Dowell, CBE
*Wayne Eagling
*Alessandra Ferri
*Dame Margot Fonteyn, DBE
*Clare Francis, MBE
*Christopher Gable
*Beryl Goldwyn
*Mary Goodhew
*Christopher Hampson
*Marcia Haydee
*Isaac James;
*Stephen Jefferies
*Jiří Kilián
*Rosalyn Landor
*Sir Kenneth MacMillan
*Debbie McGee
*Monica Mason, OBE
*Liam Mower
*Ayako Nakano
*John Neumeier
*Marianela Nunez
*Kevin O’Hare
*Dame Merle Park, DBE
*John Partridge
*Sergiy Polunin;
*Ivan Putrov
*Louise Robey
*Peter Royston
*Tom Sapsford
*Lynn Seymour
*Dame Antoinette Sibley, DBE
*Wayne Sleep, OBE
*Marion Tait
*David Wall
*Christopher Wheeldon
*Sir Peter Wright, CBE
*Miyako Yoshida

Notable staff

*Richard Blackford

ee also



External links

* [ Official site]

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