Royal Ballet School
|Royal Ballet School|
|Motto||"Strength and Grace"|
|Founder||Dame Ninette de Valois|
|LEA||Richmond upon Thames|
|Chair||The Marchioness of Douro|
AM, ARAD, Grad Dip Ed
|Assistant Director||Jay Jolley
BA (Hons) Dip RBS (PDTC)
|Academic Principal||Martin Fosten
BA (Hons) PGCE
|Age||11 to 19|
|Number of students||Approximately 200|
|School fees||Lower School:
£31,896 - Total of all fees
£18,438 - Total of all fees
|Feeder to||The Royal Ballet|
|Alumni||See: Notable Alumni|
|Governor Emeritus||The Lady Sainsbury CBE|
|Advisory Council||David Bintley CBE
Darcey Bussell CBE
Sir Anthony Dowell CBE
Sir Peter Wright CBE
The Royal Ballet School is one of the most famous classical ballet schools in the world  and is the associate school of the Royal Ballet, a leading international ballet company based at the Royal Opera House in London. The school comprises a lower school (for students aged 11-16) based at White Lodge, Richmond Park, and an upper school (for students from 16 years old upwards) based in purpose-built studios on Floral Street in Covent Garden, adjacent to the Royal Opera House. The school exists exclusively to provide specialist co-educational training in classical ballet, with graduates achieving employment with professional ballet companies worldwide. The Royal Ballet School is most noted for training some of the most celebrated ballet dancers and choreographers of the 20th century, including Dame Margot Fonteyn, Dame Beryl Grey, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Darcey Bussell and Alessandra Ferri, as well as current Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare. Graduates of the school have also achieved employment in musical theatre, contemporary and jazz dance, television and film.
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 as the Sadler's Wells Ballet School, teaching both boys and girls. 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 and after ballet performances ceased at the Old Vic, the ballet company was renamed the Sadler's Wells Ballet. 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 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 constructed between the school and the Opera House, linking the school with the theatre and the Royal Ballet Company's own studios. The designer of the bridge received an architectural award and it is known as the Bridge of Aspiration.
The Royal Ballet Lower School was formed in 1955 when the school was split for the first time. It was established at White Lodge, Richmond Park in Richmond, London, where it has remained ever since. 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.
The Royal Ballet Upper School was formed in 1955, when the Lower School was established at White Lodge. The Upper School remained at the school's existing studios in Baron's Court, London, with academic studies introduced for the first time. Later in 2003, the school relocated to new premises, and the former Baron's Court site now houses the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
The Upper School relocated to new, purpose built premises in Covent Garden in January 2003. 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.
Each year the Royal Ballet School presents its end-of-year performances, featuring students from all age groups in a wide variety of classical and contemporary works. The highlight of the School's dance year is the annual matinee, which showcases graduate students before they embark on their professional careers as well as featuring students from all years at the Upper and Lower School. The programme includes new works and heritage pieces from the Royal Ballet repertory and culminates in a grand défilé, in which every student of the school appears on stage in a choreographed curtain call.
Prima Ballerina Assoluta
One of the most notable items of trivia relating to the Royal Ballet School is that it has trained three of only a small number of dancers in history to have been recognised as Prima Ballerina Assoluta, the ultimate honorary title for a ballerina. Entirely trained at the Royal Ballet School and dancing her entire professional career with the Royal Ballet, Margot Fonteyn was appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the company in 1979. Having trained at the Royal Ballet School for several years from 1959 to 1966, Eva Evdokimova would go on to become an international guest ballerina, being recognised as a Prima Ballerina Assoluta following her performances with the Kirov Ballet in the late 1970s. Most recently, Royal Ballet School graduate Alessandra Ferri was appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta of La Scala Theatre Ballet in 1992. Another British ballerina, Alicia Markova, was also tutored by Royal Ballet school founder Ninette de Valois, and would go on to be a leading ballerina with the Ballets Russes, the first Prima Ballerina of the Royal Ballet, a founder ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, and co-founder of English National Ballet who now recognise her as the company's Prima Ballerina Assoluta. Although not trained at the Royal Ballet School, this direct connection with school founder Ninette de Valois brings the total up to four.
- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ellies-Chance-Ballet-School-Diaries/dp/0439963702 Book review from Amazon, citing the Royal Ballet School as being world famous
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/6336595.stm BBC News article, citing the Royal Ballet School as world famous
- http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/13735/royal-ballet-to-welcome-in-bbc-cameras Article from the Stage, citing the Royal Ballet School as world famous
- "The Royal Ballet School - History". Retrieved 28 January 2009.[dead link]
- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-worldfamous-architect-the-cancer-victim-and-the-dream-that-turned-into-a-glittering-prize-731786.html Article citing the award winning architecture of the Bridge of Aspiration
- http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/teatropiermarini/complessi_artistici/corpo_di_ballo/corpo_di_ballo_page_3.html Citing Alessandra Ferri as Prima Ballerina Assoluta of La Scala
- Dean Speer & Francis Timlin, A Very Merry Couple Ronald Hynd and Annette Page talk about dancing, PNB and Merry Widow from Ballet-Dance magazine dated April 2005 online at ballet-dance.com, accessed 28 April 2012