The arts should not be confined by class. Dating back to the Italian Renaissance in the 15th Century, classical ballet has long been synonymous with wealth and elitism. However, forward-thinking dance centres are changing the narrative and offering accessible training opportunities to youngsters from all backgrounds.
The Royal Ballet School, one of the most prestigious centres of classical ballet training in the world, boasts a selection of accessible outreach programmes. From talent-based courses to online intensive sessions, the school is pioneering the way and systematically breaking down perceived class barriers in the classical arts sector.
Classical ballet and creative dance can enhance the education of children and young people. The Royal Ballet School is committed to widening the access to these arts. The centre hosts a selection of Insight Days, giving students the opportunity to get involved and expand their horizons. These activities offer young people a taste of classical ballet training and the chance to learn new skills from with dance professionals.
Geared towards years three to six, the Primary Steps programme offers students between the ages of seven and 11 an introduction to the exciting world of ballet. The choreographers have tailored this initial training programme to the skill sets of young people and beginners. Hosted by a classical ballet specialist and a creative dance specialist, the programme includes weekly classes to offer primary school students a taste of dance. Learning the foundation ballet technique equips these individuals with a love of ballet from a young age.
Breaking down the class barriers in ballet is the name of the game. Funded by the Department for Education as well as other sponsors, the programme is available in areas of social, economic and cultural diversity. Working with clusters of between five and seven students, the course is split into a series of workshops and after school classes. The school has centres around the United Kingdom including in Blackpool, Mansfield, and Dagenham.
Created by The Royal Ballet School Founder Dame Ninette de Valois, the Associate Programme offers talented young students a chance to shine. Aimed at eight to 17-year-olds who are gifted in dance, the programme gives an introduction to The Royal Ballet School’s System of Training. The regional courses are available at nine centres around the United Kingdom, increasing access to professional dance training.
Coinciding with the academic year, the classes usually start in September and go all the way through to July. Each session lasts a little over two hours and can be effortlessly slotted around students’ existing academic studies. The introductory course covers a wide variety of disciplines, giving young people a well-rounded foundation to their training. Once accepted, students learn a rich curriculum which delves into national dance, historical dance, natural movement and, once they are old enough pointe work.
Talented dancers must apply to the Associate Programme to take part in the course. All applicants to this programme will have an audition to allow the team to evaluate their skills. Students can apply for Associate and Full-Time programmes in the same application. The School holds auditions around the country at centres in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Dundee, Leeds, Eastleigh, Bath, Totnes and London.
The Royal Ballet School’s highly-trained teaching team also offer Intensive Courses at varying intervals around the year. These courses offer young people straightforward access to some of the world’s best dance coaching. For budding students that are eager to pursue a full-time career in ballet, this programme will help them understand the dedication needed. As the name suggests, the programme offers a high level of training over a shorter period of time. For many, this will be their first experience of immersive training.
The in-person courses take place in the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Young people who are interested in undertaking a course can view the full calendar of options directly on The Royal Ballet School website. Live-streamed from the picturesque White Lodge studios, the school also offers Online Intensive Courses. The non-selective programmes are open to students from all backgrounds and with diverse skill sets, allowing individuals to gain an understanding of the professional realms of ballet.
Regardless of students’ wealth brackets, academic achievements, or backgrounds, there are many routes into professional dance training to explore with The Royal Ballet School. Learning about the available options and the registration process is a savvy place to start. Understanding the demands of this career and gaining a working knowledge of ballet gives young enthusiasts the foundation they need to move forward.
Located in London’s famed West End, The Royal Ballet School is a world-renowned centre of classical ballet training. Over the years, the well-known school has produced some of the most talented dancers and choreographers including Kenneth MacMillan, Lynn Seymour, David Wall, Antoinette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, and Jonathan Cope. Offering an eight-year structured dance course combined with extensive academic tutoring, the centre gives students the tools they need to excel in the competitive world of dance.