We were honoured this week to welcome Dame Merle Park and Sir Anthony Dowell to the school to coach some of our students in the pas de quatre from Frederick Ashton’s production of Swan Lake.
This weekend six students will travel to Toronto, Canada, to take part in the Assemblée Internationale, an international dance festival for professional ballet schools. The festival, hosted every four years by Canada’s National Ballet School and its inspirational Director Mavis Staines, brings together 21 ballet schools and sees students and teachers participating in mixed ballet classes and rehearsals, also showcasing each school’s culturally significant work through performances.
Royal Ballet School students will perform Ashton’s pas de quatre – a classic example of the English repertoire from one of our greatest choreographers. Rehearsing the piece with Dame Merle and Sir Anthony was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students and they are now better prepared than they could ever have hoped for their performance in Toronto.
Two of the students spoke of what the rehearsal meant to them.
Amelia (2nd Year) said:
‘It was an incredible experience working with Dame Merle and Sir Anthony – I had to pinch myself walking into the studio! Dame Merle was one of the original dancers doing this pas de quatre so it was very special indeed to be coached by her.’
Eli (2nd Year) said:
‘Sir Anthony has always been a role model for me, even before I came to The Royal Ballet School, so it was very surreal meeting him and so inspirational to be in rehearsal being coached by him. More than anything it reminds you how lucky you are to be at this school and have these fantastic opportunities.’
Both Dame Merle Park and Sir Anthony Dowell are alumni of The Royal Ballet School, and graduated into The Royal Ballet company in the 1950s, later becoming Principal dancers there. Dame Merle became Director of The Royal Ballet School in 1983, and Sir Anthony became Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet in 1986.