Virtual graduation 2020

Virtual Graduation 2020

This year was The Royal Ballet School’s first ever virtual Graduation and although the new presentation would not ordinarily have been wished for, it was uniquely special and a moment in time that will be remembered and entered into the School’s archives. Despite the fact that the graduation took place online, this did not detract from the exceptional achievements of this graduating year.

Christopher Powney, Artistic Director, introduced the students and gave them some parting words of advice. Christopher Rodrigues CBE, our Chairman, then addressed the students, as did guest speaker, Leanne Benjamin AM OBE.

Leanne Benjamin AM OBE said:

‘It’s amazing that we get to do what we love, meet exceptional people, travel the world, create new work and unlike most professions, we are lucky to end our evenings with flowers and applause! But let’s face it, with blisters on our feet, the repetition of daily class, and a bad en Dedans pirouette, we can lose our inspiration. When this happens, try to remember what made you want to dance in the first place. Hold on to that.

As Martha Graham said “Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.” You have been given all the tools to have the best possible future, and each and every one of you has something very special to offer.’

Read Leanne Benjamin’s speech in full

Watch Leanne Benjamin’s speech in full on our YouTube channel


There were several special awards presented to students, which recognised their efforts and achievements during their time at the School. We wish all our graduates every success in their future careers.


The Captain and Mrs John Moore Awards for excellence in the preparation, presentation and delivery of the final dissertation as part of The Royal Ballet School Classical Ballet and Dance Performance Degree. Kindly presented by Alison Cattermole in remembrance of her parents, Captain and Mrs John Moore.

Awarded to: James Large, Brigid Walker and Louis Scrivener

The Ashton Award for the graduating student who has shown style, personality and technique in Ashton ballets. Kindly left as a gift in his will by Robert Kimber and presented by Christopher Nourse, Executive Director of The Frederick Ashton Foundation.

Awarded to: Marianna Tsembenhoi

The David Norman Awards for the graduating students who have shown leadership qualities and demonstrated good citizenship during their time at the School. Kindly sponsored and presented by Geoffrey R W Smith.

Awarded to: Gillian Whittall and Jeremy Sheung Yin Chan

The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers Awards for the male and female graduates who have made the most progress in classical ballet training during their time at the School. Kindly presented by the Master, Mike Gunston.

Awarded to: Lucy Waine and Denilson Almeida Afonso

The London Ballet Circle Dame Ninette Awards for the most outstanding male and female graduates of The Royal Ballet School. Kindly presented by Susan Dalgetty Ezra, Chairman of The London Ballet Circle.

Awarded to: Hanna Park and Daichi Ikarashi