Affiliated Vocational Ballet Schools

Birmingham Royal Ballet draws most of its dancers from two leading British vocational ballet schools: the Royal Ballet School in London, and Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham.

The Royal Ballet School enjoys worldwide recognition as a renowned institution for classical ballet training. Its Royal Charter, linking it with the Royal Ballet Companies, assures its purpose and its commitment to excellence.

The founding of the school came in 1926, when Dame Ninette de Valois opened her Academy of Choreographic Art. Inspired to create a repertory ballet company and school, she collaborated with Lilian Baylis, lessee and Manager of the Old Vic Theatre. When Lilian Baylis acquired the Sadler's Wells Theatre, de Valois moved the School there in 1931 and it became The Vic-Wells Ballet School feeding dancers into The Vic-Wells Ballet Company. In 1939 the school was re-named The Sadler's Wells Ballet School and the Company became The Sadler's Wells Ballet.

In 1946 The Sadler's Wells Ballet moved to a permanent home at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. A second company was formed, The Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1947 the School moved from Sadler's Wells Theatre to Barons Court and general education was, at last, combined with vocational ballet training.

The Lower School moved to White Lodge, Richmond Park in 1955/56 and became residential, combining general education and vocational ballet training. The Upper School remained at Barons Court until 2003 when it moved to new studios next to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

The Royal Charter was granted in October 1956 and the School and companies were renamed The Royal Ballet School, The Royal Ballet and the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (Birmingham Royal Ballet's name before the Company's move to Birmingham in 1990).

Elmhurst is the oldest vocational dance school in the UK – its vision is to provide a world renowned centre of excellence for the training and education of classical ballet dancers for Birmingham Royal Ballet and other national and international dance companies.

Having relocated from Surrey, Elmhurst formally became an Associate School of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2002 and Birmingham Royal Ballet's Director, David Bintley CBE, became the school’s Artistic Advisor. In October 2006, following a visit to the school by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Her Royal Highness agreed to become Patron of Elmhurst.

The new school has been specifically designed to meet the requirements of professional dance training, with all facilities on one five- acre campus. This move constituted a £20 million investment in the future of dance education in the UK and Elmhurst now fills what was a conspicuous void in vocational dance training in the Midlands. In October 2005, the school was officially opened by Dame Merle Park, a former student, and Sir Peter Wright, former Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Elmhurst prepares students for professional careers in ballet and allied dance genres. Students benefit greatly from the school’s association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and many students from the school have an opportunity to appear with the Company. The curriculum is geared to the future requirements of ballet companies worldwide and is taught by an international faculty of dance teachers with outstanding professional reputations.


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