The Ninette de Valois Choreographic Programme
From its origins as The Academy of Choreographic Art, The Royal Ballet School has a long tradition of encouraging choreographic work inside its walls. The School’s Founder, Dame Ninette de Valois, was a noted choreographer and championed the nurturing of the creative impulse in emerging young artists at the School. We honour her legacy by maintaining her commitment to fostering creative curiosity and expression and centring choreography in our training to this day.
Through the Ninette de Valois Choreographic Programme, students are supported in experimentation, working with mentors to find their unique choreographic voices.
The School is proud to count some of the most influential, exciting choreographers of our times as its alumni.
The programme today
Three distinct choreographic events happen each academic year:
Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer (formerly Ninette de Valois Emerging Choreographer) for White Lodge Years 7, 8 and 9
Kenneth MacMillan Emerging Choreographer for White Lodge Years 10 and 11
Frederick Ashton Emerging Choreographer (formerly Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer) for Upper School 2nd Year
Over a period of weeks, students are offered guidance from mentors on developing a choreographic piece, including studio research and improvisation. They experience working as a professional choreographer, considering and inputting into all the elements that make a production successful, including staging, props, lighting and costume design.
Students choreograph on their peers and coach their casts. They then present their pieces to an audience and a panel of mentors and guest artists offering feedback. The panel highlight some of the pieces they feel have potential for future development, and some of these are chosen to be shown at future performances, including the School’s Summer Performances at Opera Holland Park and on the main stage of the Royal Opera House.
Choreography forms part of the students’ academic education as dance studies with a focus on developing choreographic craft. Alongside learning about a range of choreographers and their work, students cover an understanding of timing and space, improvisation, gesture, using music and developing new ideas from ballet principles.
The programme’s origins
De Valois originally established The Royal Ballet School as The Academy of Choreographic Art, highlighting her commitment to the art of choreography at the core of what she intended the School to be.
She invited choreographer Leonide Massine to teach dance composition from 1968-71, and encouraged a further initiative using aspects of Massine’s work from 1975-81 led by Richard Glasstone with Kate Flatt.
From 1990-99, Norman Morrice and David Drew were responsible for guiding interested and talented students and together they nurtured choreographic talent at the School.
Graduate choreographers of the School include: