Dancers smile and applaud in a studio

The School kicks off the new academic year 2022/23

The new School year commenced on 12 September, and our full-time students and staff have now completed two weeks of the autumn term.

A new term always brings exciting feelings of a fresh start, celebrating the beginning of a new School year and the opportunities that lie ahead. It is always a joy to welcome new students and staff and welcome back familiar faces to both White Lodge and Upper School. Students have been settling into their new dorms, getting used to their routines and timetables, meeting their teachers and forming friendships with their fellow students. With lots to achieve in both their academic and artistic classes and performance opportunities on the horizon, they are already working hard!

Artistic Director Christopher Powney, Academic and Pastoral Principal David Gajadharsingh and Assistant Principal – Pastoral and Welfare Jill Tait-Harris, alongside the Artistic Programme Managers, have been welcoming students back to School in a series of assemblies.

Assemblies opened with a tribute to our Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who sadly died just before term began. Mr Powney reflected that she was born in 1926, the same year as the School was founded, and was our Patron since our Royal Charter was granted in 1956:

She served her country with the utmost integrity, dignity and compassion… We are grateful for her generous support over the many years that she served as our Patron, and she will be remembered by all of us very fondly.

Mr Powney then reflected on the ‘outstanding’ performances that marked the culmination of the last school year in June and July, congratulating the students and their teachers on the incredibly high standards achieved, particularly following several challenging years with training and rehearsals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Powney described the performances as ‘exceptional’ and ‘very special.’

For many of the students, they are not only starting a new School but moving to a new city, with new people, a new environment and for some, a new language and culture. All the staff acknowledge that this can be a challenging time and are focused on providing the best possible support. Students are actively encouraged to communicate with staff, whether their academic or artistic teachers, our Clinical Psychologist or School counsellors, house parents or using the anonymous reporting systems we have in place for students to raise concerns. Students are reminded that staff are always available to speak to and are here to help. Mr Powney also emphasised the importance of supporting each other as peers:

There is much to adjust to, and that can be challenging, but I am confident that you will do so in time, with the help of your fellow students. I hope that in time The Royal Ballet School will become your second family.

The School is focused on nurturing students not only to help them realise their dreams to become professional dancers but also to realise their full potential as human beings, using a holistic approach and placing equal importance on academic, artistic, personal and social development. Because our students have set out on a path to a particularly demanding career, they receive a world-class physical and mental health provision from Year 7 right through to 3rd Year at Upper School.

Students were reminded of the many exciting performance opportunities coming up, including supporters visiting School to watch class, the School’s choreographic programmes and opportunities to perform with our affiliated Companies, The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, among others.

Finally, Mr Powney encouraged students to make the most of the opportunity to work with their teachers to get the most out of their training and to bring courage and commitment to their studies. He closed the assemblies by noting:

You’re here because you have so much potential. This is the starting point, but is never a guarantee of success. Take hold of it now while you can. I believe in effort; if you work hard and put in every effort you will give yourself the very best opportunity to achieve your dreams. I think this applies to all aspects of life. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you all and seeing you thrive this year.