Honouring our history: The Royal Ballet School’s Ninette de Valois Choreographic Programme
From its origins as The Academy of Choreographic Art, The Royal Ballet School has a long tradition of nurturing the creative impulse in emerging young dancers. The School’s Founder, Dame Ninette de Valois, was a noted choreographer dedicated to centring choreography into our students’ holistic training with our Choreographic Programme.
We maintain Dame Ninette de Valois’ legacy and commitment to creative curiosity and expression through our Choreographic Programme, which has fostered some of the world’s greatest and most influential choreographers. The Choreographic Programme is an integral component of our student’s academic and artistic education. It allows students from Year 7 at White Lodge through to 2nd Year at Upper School to find their unique choreographic voices and develop essential creative skills.
Each year, students are given guidance from industry mentors and tasked with developing a choreographic piece. Students gain first-hand experience in the choreographic process, responsible for research, improvisation, and coordinating staging, props, lighting and costume design for their works. Choreographing on their peers, students present their works to an audience and a panel of guest artists at several events throughout the year, who offer valuable feedback and inspiration. Many of their creations are showcased on stage at future performances, including the School’s Summer Performances at Opera Holland Park and the Royal Opera House.
Changes to the Programme
As of September 2023, the newly-named Ninette de Valois Choreographic Programme will comprise three annual events, each for a distinct age group at the School. Artistic Director & CEO Christopher Powney spoke of the important changes:
The programme will continue to honour the legacy of our Founder, Dame Ninette de Valois, while acknowledging the contributions of three figures integral to the heritage of both The Royal Ballet School and Royal Ballet Companies.
The three annual events as part of the Ninette de Valois Choreographic Programme include:
Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer (formerly Ninette de Valois Emerging Choreographer)
Named in honour of one of Dame Ninette de Valois’ most constant colleagues and assistants and the School’s Ballet Principal and then Director, the event is a presentation of choreographic work by the School’s youngest students, Years 7, 8 and 9 (aged 11 to 14 years) at White Lodge, and takes place in March each year.
Kenneth MacMillan Emerging Choreographer
Named in honour of the renowned British choreographer, alumnus of The Royal Ballet School and former Principal Choreographer and Director of The Royal Ballet, the event is a presentation of choreographic work by students in Years 10 and 11 (aged 14 to 16 years) at White Lodge, and takes place in December each year.
Frederick Ashton Emerging Choreographer (formerly Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer)
Named in honour of the Founding Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, the event is a presentation of choreographic work created by 2nd Year students (aged 17 to 18 years) at the Upper School, and takes place in May each year.
The Royal Ballet School’s Choreographic Programme is generously supported by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, The Frederick Ashton Foundation, Lady MacMillan, Andre Rzym and Peter Wilson.