Two students stood with jerome anthony barnes, all smiling to the camera.

Jerome Anthony Barnes returns to The Royal Ballet School for a Creative Artist talk

We were thrilled to welcome back alumnus Jerome Anthony Barnes to Upper School on Thursday 11 November, for our latest Creative Artist talk. Jerome was interviewed by 2nd Year students Alexandra Manuel and Caspar Lench in front of an excited audience of Upper School students and staff.

Jerome was a Junior Associate before joining White Lodge as a full-time student. He graduated from the School in 2017 and immediately joined Scottish Ballet, where he was promoted to Soloist in 2020. Jerome received the One Dance UK Rising Star Award 2021.

It was clear how much it meant to Jerome to return to the School and share his experiences with the students as they prepared to enter the professional dance world. He warmly thanked the teachers and students for welcoming him.

A passion for dance

It was a far-reaching and inspiring discussion. Jerome told the audience that from first going to ballet class to spend time with a girlfriend, he quickly developed a hunger and passion for dance that he credits with getting him into White Lodge. This drive has carried Jerome through his training and career, and he advised students to have confidence to stand out:

When you audition, I would say go and perform and be bold and confident. Forget about the technical because it’s there, it’s built in you guys already, but when you come to a company, you’re no longer a student as a dancer, you’re going to be a performing artist… so you have to put the dust on top, the performance side of it.

A strong mindset

Jerome said that visualisation and spending time alone to focus on his personal goals has been integral to his path. He advised that understanding your own wants, needs and motivations will help you to make decisions and cope with disappointments:

In life in general, the most important conversations you will ever have are with yourself… being alone is very powerful, and not being influenced by other energy, I think that’s important.

You’ve got to be a navigator for yourself of knowing your skill set in this present time, and being truthful to yourself, to know what’s right for you right now. Everyone takes a different path.

Jerome shared his experience of joining Scottish Ballet, the inspiration he takes from his Director, and how he prepares to go on stage. He also talked about his experiences making the short films Tremble and Frontiers for Scottish Ballet and the differences between performing on stage and on camera.  

Diversity in dance

Jerome told the audience that following the Black Lives Matter movement, collectively they had conversations at Scottish Ballet about how they could work to diversify their ballets. While Jerome says he hasn’t personally experienced any issues because of his race, he thinks there is still work to be done to change the traditional image of ballet. He said that he believes the way to encourage more men of colour to try ballet is to show how powerful it can be:

It needs to relate back to that athletic stuff, that it’s not for girls, and it has a power about it, and there’s so much to overcome… that message needs to keep getting pushed forward.

Thank you Jerome for all your wonderful insights.