Jay jolley teaching in a studio

Former Royal Ballet School Assistant Artistic Director Awarded Honorary OBE

We were recently delighted to hear that our former Assistant Artistic Director, Jay Jolley, was awarded an honorary OBE for his services to dance.

Jay worked at the School for 24 years before retiring in 2019. He began working at the School in 1996 as Ballet Administrator and then became Assistant Artistic Director to Artistic Director, Gailene Stock, in 1999.

During his time as the School, Jay initiated our Outreach and Access departments, facilitating a range of educational community programmes including Primary Steps.

Our Artistic Director, Christopher Powney, said:

This award to Jay is very much deserved. Not only did he reach great heights in his dancing career with The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet, but he helped foster a new generation of talent through his teaching and pioneering outreach work. 

As a School we are indebted to Jay for initiating our Outreach and Access departments as well as his successful tenure as both Assistant and Acting Artistic Director. On a personal note, I remain incredibly grateful to Jay for his support when I began in my role as Artistic Director at the School.

About Jay Jolley

Jay began his training in Utah and later went on to study with William Christensen, the co-founder of the San Francisco Ballet. He first performed with Ballet West in Salt Lake City before moving to New York City Ballet. Encouraged by Rudolf Nureyev to come to London, he joined London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) before being invited to join The Royal Ballet as Principal Artist.

Following a long and highly successful dance career, Jay moved into business administration and became Company Manager for Birmingham Royal Ballet. In 1996 he joined The Royal Ballet School.

In addition to his administrative and artistic roles at the School, Jay was instrumental in the development of the White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre, which was the first dedicated ballet museum in the UK. He also played a substantial role in the creation of the Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist Conference, which aimed to facilitate a rigorous and multi-disciplinary exploration of de Valois’ life and legacy.