Hope keelan awarded 2022 royal ballet governors’ gold medal

Hope Keelan awarded 2022 Royal Ballet Governors’ Gold Medal

We are delighted to say that this year’s recipient of The Royal Ballet Governors’ Gold Medal is Hope Keelan.

On what was a very moving occasion, all the students and staff of The Royal Ballet School gathered at the foot of the steps outside the Salon in the grounds of White Lodge to see Hope receive the Gold Medal. The award was given by Dame Sue Owen DCB, Chair of The Royal Ballet Governors. Also present were Christopher Rodrigues CBE, Chair of The Royal Ballet School and a Royal Ballet Governor; Jeanetta Laurence OBE and Derek Purnell, both Royal Ballet Governors; and Jacqueline Mistry, Honorary Secretary of The Royal Ballet Governors.

The annual awarding of the prestigious Gold Medal was established in 2006 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter and recognises the outstanding contribution of an unsung hero or heroine of the Royal Ballet companies. It has been awarded to a wide range of individuals for their work whether onstage, backstage, in the orchestra pit, in administration or otherwise.

In her address, Dame Sue Owen said:

Each year, the Governors are faced with the daunting task of selecting a recipient from so many worthy people. This year’s chosen recipient has been described by her peers as tenacious, enthusiastic, a remarkable teacher and able to plan with military precision! It is with the greatest of pleasure that the Governors of the Royal Ballet award the Gold Medal for 2022 to Hope Keelan.

Hope came to the UK from Canada in 1973 to take The Royal Ballet School’s three-year full-time Teachers’ Training Course, and was invited to become Valerie Adams’ assistant when she graduated. Later, she worked at Ballet Rambert’s school as a teacher and valued Trustee and also taught at English National Ballet School. She also taught internationally, bringing her exemplary skills to dancers from Australia to South Africa and Luxembourg to Mexico.

She was made The Royal Ballet School’s Assistant Ballet Principal at White Lodge in 2002, subsequently becoming Artistic Teacher and Programme Manager until her semi-retirement last summer. Described as ‘a truly great ballet teacher,’ she has taught hundreds of students and mentored many more. Countless dancers, now enjoying distinguished careers in the Royal Ballet Companies and many other great companies around the world, fondly recall their early days of training with Miss Keelan.  She is particularly noted for her extraordinary ability to train boys and continues to teach her beloved Year 7 boys at the School today.

On accepting the award, an emotional Hope said:

I really don’t know what to say. I think the most important thing is I work for a School that lets me be what I’m good at… I had a passion to teach. I never had to justify not having danced professionally and I was allowed to be me… We are so lucky to be part of a building that cares so much and will let you fly.

The School’s Artistic Director, Christopher Powney, said:

I had the pleasure of being one of Hope’s students almost four decades ago and went on to become one of her teaching colleagues at The Royal Ballet School over two decades ago. Returning 14 years later as Artistic Director, I was confident in the knowledge that the training of our young students was in the best possible hands with Hope Keelan… I cannot commend her more highly – as a mentor, a valued colleague, a friend and a remarkable teacher; I give my thanks to her on behalf of The Royal Ballet School and her students.

The Royal Ballet School Chair Christopher Rodrigues said:

Many teachers aspire to make a difference to their pupils’ development. Few have achieved acclaim for so many years, so consistently, at home and abroad. This is a teacher of such consummate skill that she has truly become a legend in her lifetime.

Congratulations Hope on this wonderful achievement and your truly remarkable contribution.