The Royal Ballet School Seminars

The Royal Ballet SchoolThe Royal Ballet School has launched Inspire, a series of six seminars for classical ballet teachers starting in May 2015. Held across the UK, the inspiring events will support continued professional development and networking for dance professionals from all teaching backgrounds and societies, devised and delivered by the School. The seminars will explore good teaching practice and the foundations of classical ballet technique (non-syllabus based).

Each seminar can be attended as a one-off event but the School recommends that teachers take part in all six seminars in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the full Inspire series. A certificate of participation will be provided after each seminar, and on finishing the six seminars, a final certificate of completion of the Inspire programme will be awarded.

The series will launch with the first event in London in May 2015, delivered by Mark Annear and Karen Berry of The Royal Ballet School. The series will then run from autumn 2015 in London, and initially Birmingham, Cardiff, York and Edinburgh. Other locations will potentially be offered later as the programme progresses. Teachers will therefore be able to access some of the finest ballet training tutors in the country to share the world-class expertise of The Royal Ballet School to enrich their practice.

The School’s mission is to train and educate outstanding classical ballet dancers for The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and other top international dance companies, and in doing so to set the standards in dance training, nationally and internationally. The School offers an eight-year carefully structured dance course, aligned with an extensive academic programme, giving the students the best possible education to equip them for a career in the world of dance. Keeping in line with this, the Inspire programme will produce teachers with a well-rounded knowledge to take back to their classrooms.

Martin Harvey – Wacky For Wind In The Willows

Martin HarveyWhat better way to celebrate the festive period than with the Royal Opera House’s “The Wind in the Willows” at the Vaudeville Theatre. Martin Harvey joined this year’s production to take on the role of Ratty…

Harvey’s extensive dance career has included numerous principal roles with the Royal Ballet from Mayerling, Onegin and La Fille Mal Gardée, to Manon and Romeo and Juliet. Harvey’s acting credits include his award-winning performance as Johnny Castle in the West End production of Dirty Dancing, as well as multiple roles in New York, including Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen for the Metropolitan Opera, Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away and David Michalek’s Portraits in Dramatic Time.

What’s your dance background?

I started dancing at around four years old in a local school and then I went to the Royal Ballet School at the age of 11 where I trained until [I was] 16. I then started in the Royal Ballet Company at 16. That sounds like a lot of ballet but I did most forms of dance, but specialised in ballet.

What was a typical day like?

A typical day included three to four hours of dancing with ballet class, a pas de deux class, and loads of other forms of dance and choreography. It also included four hours of academic work every day. So that was eight hours a day, six days a week. We would also go Morris dancing on a Sunday. You usually had dance homework as well where you would do stretches and practice on your own. Dance cramming, like trying to do the splits until you split.

What’s a typical day like for you now?

So different. I live in Harlem, Manhattan in New York. On a typical day, I get up and spend time with my wife and our Yorkshire Terrier. I then meditate for about 45 minutes to an hour. I do it as part of my warm up as an actor; meditation spills into actor training but I also do general meditation. I then go and take a class at Steps in New York, normally an hour and a half of ballet or something physical. I will then go for an audition or do some voiceover work or a commercial. I then teach a ballet class for students and in the evening, I go to The Pit in New York and either do a three hour drop-in class or an hour and a half comedy improve.

Have you always wanted to be a performer?

I think that’s got to be true. When I was three (I don’t remember this but my Mum has told me) I used to bang on our TV, it was this little black and white TV and I would sit down next to it and bang on it and ask how I would get inside! So clearly I wanted to do something like that!

When did you start performing professionally?

My first professional gig was when I was seven. I played Michael Darling in Peter Pan at the Aldwych Theatre in London with Bonnie Langford. This production went on tour so I was travelling on tour when I was seven with Tinkerbell, The Lost Boys and Bonnie Langford! After that I worked every year until I went to the Royal Ballet School. I would say that acting was my first love before dance but I think that both arrived at the same time and you can’t distinguish between them as they are both necessary to each other.

What are your rehearsals like for Ratty?

Sweaty, detailed, exhausting and hilarious.

What are the best and worst parts of the creative process for you?

The best part of any creative process is the laughter. The worst part is when it’s not creative. When it’s going well and everyone’s laughing it’s brilliant, but when it’s not creative, that’s just it and the issue is it can’t always be creative.

What are you most looking forward to about the performances?

We get to see our audience quite a lot and seeing the kids really enjoy it and watching their parents so excited about the kids’ reactions is brilliant. It’s like a chain reaction and it is so brilliant to watch. For the actor in me, I get to spend two hours living in a fantasy land! I look forward to seeing kids’ faces light up and also I get to be a kid for two hours and be as wacky as Ratty!

What’s the best thing about performing?

That’s the best thing about performing, but the whole reason I do what I do is characters. Even when I am dancing, singing, performing, I am living and seeing through someone else’s eyes. It’s the ultimate escapism. Some people go swimming or running but for me, when I’m performing I’m completely in a moment, completely immersed in fantasy land. Spending time living life through someone else’s eyes.

What’s one thing you would change about the industry?

Omg, do I only get one?!

What is your advice to an aspiring dancer?

If you love it, don’t look back and don’t take no for an answer.

Dancers’ Career Development & The Royal Ballet School

Dancers’ Career Development (DCD) LogoDancers’ Career Development and The Royal Ballet School are set to work in partnership to embed a culture of Continuing Professional Development within the curriculum at the school in a partnership which is the first of its kind in the UK. It demonstrates The Royal Ballet School’s practical approach to safeguarding its students’ welfare beyond their time at the school, educating students about dancer transitions through the leadership of Dancers’ Career Development.

The partnership will support dance students at a key time in their personal development: they will be encouraged to consider a wider view of the world around them and to build upon transferable skills developed through study. Dancers’ Career Development will engage with students in all three years of study at The Royal Ballet Upper School.

Adopting a practical approach to learning, the programme will include an Introduction to Transition in Year One. In Year Two, students will participate in visits to Dancers’ Career Development beneficiaries working in multiple, diverse careers and will have the opportunity to meet and network with current and former professional dancers. In the Graduate Year, students will take a detailed look at the practicalities of transition and the Transition Support Services provided by Dancers’ Career Development.

The partnership is set to be particularly valuable in giving students a chance to think more broadly about a future beyond dance; Dancers’ Career Development will give them the support they need to understand how the life skills they learn during their training will one day serve them in other disciplines. As a world leader in dance transition, Dancers’ Career Development welcomes the opportunity to engage with and support the dancers of the future to be fully prepared for their performance careers and beyond, recognising their unique talents, skills and abilities.

The Royal Ballet School Announces New Teachers’ Course

The Royal Ballet SchoolThe Royal Ballet School will launch a new teachers’ course starting in September 2014: the Diploma of Dance Teaching will build on the highly successful Professional Dancer Teachers’ Course and the expertise of the school’s Dance Partnership & Access Programme, to provide a good foundation in both technical and creative approaches to teaching ballet. The course will be delivered by Royal Ballet School staff and visiting lecturers in The Royal Ballet School’s state of the art studios in Covent Garden, London.

The two-year part time course includes opportunities to specialise in teaching in either vocational or educational settings: the Diploma is suitable for both current and ex-professional dancers and teachers and will provide a sound foundation in teaching ballet to a broad range of students. The course will cover classical ballet technique, anatomy, education practice, reflective practice, psychology and child development and work place context.

The course is a particularly special one for the organisation in that it not only offers flexibility in learning, but also gives teachers a broad body of knowledge on which to build a successful career in dance. The Dance Partnership & Access Programme was established in 2004 to provide broader access to ballet and the work of The Royal Ballet School. Over ten years a national programme of long term, sustainable primary and secondary school projects has been established, providing introducing ballet to a new generation by the school’s graduates.

The School’s mission is to train and educate outstanding classical ballet dancers for The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and other top international dance companies, and in doing so to set the standards in dance training, nationally and internationally. The School offers an eight-year carefully structured dance course, aligned with an extensive academic programme, giving the students the best possible education to equip them for a career in the world of dance.

Darcey at the Royal Ballet School

Darcey Bussell

Ex-prima ballerina and Royal Academy of Dance President Darcey Bussell’s career will be displayed in the form of memorabilia at the Royal Ballet School’s museum in west London this summer. The free exhibition will feature photographs and costumes from Bussell’s personal collection, including her Princess Rose costume from Kenneth MacMillan’s 1989 production The Prince of the Pagodas: it was after this that she was made a Principal of the Royal Ballet at the young age of 20.

The exhibition, called ‘Darcey Bussell: from Student to Star of The Royal Ballet’, will run from 6 May to 30 October, and will mark the fifth anniversary of the Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre in Richmond. The museum has claimed to be the first dedicated ballet museum in the UK, offering much to its visitors.

In terms of memorabilia, the tunic Bussell wore for her final performance with the company in the 2007 production of MacMillan’s Song of the Earth will be on show as the last costume she wore, as will her tutu from the revival of Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia in 2004. These pieces are thought to attract lots attention, considering Bussell’s stature as such an iconic figure in dance. Also on display will be film footage and artefacts such as a plaster-cast of Bussell’s foot ‘en pointe’ used for a waxwork, and a sketch by artist Allen Jones as preparation for his 1994 portrait of the ballerina for the National Portrait Gallery.

These objects are also particularly meaningful for Bussell too, because each evokes memories of particular moments in her life as a dancer; from her first Royal Ballet School reports, to the costumes she wore in performances on stage at the Royal Opera House.

The Royal Ballet School’s End Of Year Performance

The Royal Ballet SchoolThe Royal Ballet School’s end of year performance on 14 July 2013 at the Royal Opera House will see a world premiere performed. The one-act ballet entitled La Destinée has been commissioned especially to be performed alongside works by Maurice Béjart, Jiří Bubeníček and Valentino Zucchetti.

La Destinée will feature a new score by young British conductor and composer, Michael England, and has been choreographed by Mark Annear, The Royal Ballet School’s Head of Outreach and Teacher Training, with sets and costumes designed by former student Gary Harris for the students so used to the regulatory pink tights, ballet shoes and leotards. La Destinée will showcase the exceptional talent of students from all three years of The Royal Ballet Upper School. The piece is not essentially narrative, but will serve to demonstrate the versatility of the company of young dancers.

Excerpts from Maurice Béjart’s Seven Greek Dances will also appear. Having premiered in 1983, this version has been restaged especially for The Royal Ballet School by Jean Yves Esquerre who was a member of Béjart’s company. The young Czech choreographer Jiří Bubeníček will stage his Canon in D Major. The piece was originally part of a longer work entitled Le Souffle de l’Esprit, created in 1992 and inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body. Currently a Principal Dancer at the Semperoper Ballet, Dresden Jiří Bubeníček’s choreography has been performed by New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of China, North Carolina Dance Theater as well as for his company in Germany. Former student of The Royal Ballet School, Valentino Zucchetti will stage his Sonata for Six. A Soloist with The Royal Ballet, Valentino Zucchetti first choreographed a piece for the Company’s Draft Works at the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2011: Sonata for Six is a development of the original creation.

The climax of the end-of-year show will be Grand Défilé, featuring all 225 students of the school in a fantastic display of virtuosity.