The royal ballet school welcomes four new artistic staff  

The Royal Ballet School welcomes four new Artistic staff  

We are excited to share that The Royal Ballet School will welcome four new highly-respected full-time Artistic teachers across White Lodge and Upper School in September. Larissa Bamber and James Butcher will join White Lodge’s teaching faculty, with Sarah Kundi and Stuart Cassidy joining the Upper School faculty at the commencement of the new academic year. Three of our new appointments are School alumni.

Larissa Bamber

Larissa trained at White Lodge and Upper School before graduating to The Royal Ballet. During her time with the company, she performed repertoire ranging from corps de ballet to Principal roles, with her favourite role being Sir Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations.

Upon retiring from her performing career, Larissa trained as a teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance, gaining the Professional Dancers’ Teacher Diploma with Distinction. She has coached and mentored dancers of all ages at several UK vocational ballet schools, including The English National Ballet School, where she trained and mentored the graduate year for 13 years. She has also choreographed and co-produced productions for The English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet Associates, coordinated short courses and summer programmes, and was the Artistic Advisor of The English National Ballet School Juniors. Larissa has taught and adjudicated scholarships and awards throughout the UK and internationally and most recently, was invited to be the Artistic Director and Principal Teacher of Images Ballet Company at London Studio Centre in 2021.

James Butcher

James trained with Central School of Ballet and received a scholarship to join The Royal Ballet School Upper School. After graduating, he joined The Royal Ballet and danced in a number of classical ballets, including the original cast of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Following his time with the company, James moved into the West End, dancing roles in Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre) and Christopher Wheeldon’s original London cast of An American in Paris.

James is a Fellow and committee member of the Imperial Classical Ballet faculty for the ISTD and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance (ARAD). He is a qualified Personal Trainer, holds an MA in Dance Pedagogy, and a Fellowship in Higher Education (FHEA). James has been a ballet teacher and rehearsal director for London Children’s Ballet and a ballet teacher at Sylvia Young Theatre School and Italia Conti Academy. He joins The Royal Ballet School from Central School of Ballet, where he has been teaching the 3rd Year undergraduate students completing the BA (Hons) course.

Sarah Kundi

Sarah trained with Central School of Ballet and joined Northern Ballet in 2004. In 2008 Sarah joined Ballet Black, where she performed with the company for five years and was nominated for a Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance in the Classical sector for William Tuckett’s Depouillement. Sarah joins The Royal Ballet School from The English National Ballet, where she was a First Artist. After joining the company in 2014, Sarah was awarded the Corps de Ballet Award on behalf of the English National Ballet in 2017.

In 2022, she completed her Teacher Training Diploma with The Royal Ballet School and has sat on many audition and assessment panels. Sarah is deeply passionate about teaching and is affiliated with the Engagement Team at English National Ballet, where she has been involved in numerous workshops and projects. Sarah is also the Advisor and Facilitator of The English National Ballet’s Pipeline Project, Ballet Futures, an artistic training programme for children from underrepresented backgrounds.

Stuart Cassidy

Stuart started training with The Royal Ballet School’s Associate Programme before training at White Lodge and Upper School. After graduating, Stuart joined The Royal Ballet and was rapidly promoted to Principal after only four years with the Company. Most notably, as a corps de ballet member, he debuted as Romeo in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. After 11 years with The Royal Ballet, he joined K-Ballet in Japan as a Principal Dancer, founding member, and Assistant Director until 2020. He remains an Honorary Principal of K-Ballet.

Stuart qualified from the Royal Academy of Dance Professional Dancers Teacher Diploma with distinction in 2003 and became a qualified Pilates instructor in 2005. He is a passionate teacher, having taught students and professionals at The Royal Ballet School Upper School, K-Ballet, New Zealand School of Dance, Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, and English National Ballet School.

Farewell to our outgoing Artistic staff

This September, we also bid farewell to some valued Artistic staff pursuing exciting new adventures.

After nearly a decade of teaching at The Royal Ballet School, ballet teacher Kenta Kura will return to Japan as the newly appointed Director of K-BALLET ACADEMY and K-BALLET SCHOOL. Kenta has made an immense impact on students and staff through his dedication to promoting the School’s positive and holistic teaching ethos and his commitment to nurturing our White Lodge students. We wish him every success as he returns to Japan.

Vocational and Pre-professional Programme ballet teacher, Zhan Atymtayev, will leave the School to join The Royal Swedish Ballet as a Rehearsal Director. We sincerely congratulate Zhan for realising his ambition of working with professional dancers and wish him the very best in Sweden. Thanks to his dedication and expertise, our Upper School programmes have flourished, and our students have greatly benefited from his teaching and mentorship.

Our ballet teacher for the Vocational and Pre-professional Programmes, Daria Klimentová, will depart from The Royal Ballet School to explore new opportunities, involving focusing on her successful Prague International Ballet Masterclasses. Daria has dedicated much of her career to British ballet and, for the past decade, has taught, nurtured, and supported the next generation of dancers with the utmost integrity and quality. She has been an integral member of our Upper School Artistic teaching faculty and will be truly missed by staff and students.

We thank Kenta, Zhan and Daria for their immeasurable contributions to The Royal Ballet School and wish them every success. We also look forward to welcoming our new Artistic staff in September for another exceptional year.