Photo: Patrick Baldwin
The Royal Ballet School has a long tradition of encouraging choreographic work with both students of all ages.
Dame Ninette de Valois, our Founder, originally called the School The Academy of Choreographic Art. As both a choreographer and as Artistic Director of the emerging Royal Ballet Company, she understood the need to development and nurture creative talent.
She invited choreographer Leonide Massine to teach dance composition from 1968-71, and then encouraged a further initiative using aspects of Massine’s work from 1975-81 which was led by Richard Glasstone with Kate Flatt.
From 1990-99 Norman Morrice and David Drew were responsible for guiding interested and talented students and together they nurtured choreographic talent at the School.
Choreographic award performances are an important feature of the School year. There are three awards – two at White Lodge and one at our base in Covent Garden.
At White Lodge is the Ninette De Valois Award for Years 7 and 8 and the Kenneth Macmillan Award for Years 9, 10 and 11. Choreographic work at White Lodge is overseen in its preparation by Dr Susie Cooper and ballet staff and a panel of invited external judges adjudicates the awards.
The Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award at our Covent Garden home was created in 1973 to encourage choreographic talent. Winners have included Adam Cooper, Matthew Hart, Michael Clark, Jonathan Burrows, William Tuckett, Christopher Hampson, Christopher Wheeldon, Cathy Marston, Xander Parish and Liam Scarlett, all of whom have gone on to make careers as choreographers.
The course offers a range of projects especially designed to encourage creativity, choice and discernment amongst the students. Choreography also forms part of the students’ academic education as dance studies with a focus on developing choreographic craft.
The course includes external visits to performances and galleries, music education guest workshops. The course runs across the first two years of training and every student is encouraged to choreograph and be part of the creative process.
A further aim is to deepen understanding of the ballet tradition and an understanding of new choreographic approaches in current repertoire. The course aims to respect the heritage of the Royal Ballet and what it offers, towards discovering new and imaginative development of ideas and material.
1st Year students cover a series of introductory composition sessions involving understanding of time and space, improvisation, gesture, using music and developing new ideas from ballet principles.
In 2nd Year there is group work, choreographic craft development, music education, wider vocabulary development and longer projects involving collaboration on a given theme which culminate in the Ursula Moreton Award.