Healthy Dancer Programme

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The future of classical ballet healthcare is here.

As one of the world’s greatest centres of excellence for classical ballet training, The Royal Ballet School is committed to creating healthy, strong and resilient young dancers.

Through our world-class Healthy Dancer Programme, we are able to invest in the long-term health of our students, enhancing performance through on-site healthcare support and research from 11 years old. We are also empowering dancers to learn to take charge of their own wellbeing and equipping them for the considerable demands their careers will place on their bodies and minds.

This programme is managed by a dedicated team of 20 healthcare professionals including:

  • Healthcare Manager
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Counsellors
  • Rehabilitation Ballet Instructors
  • Physiotherapists
  • Performance Nutritionists
  • Sports Physicians
  • Strength and Conditioning coaches
  • School Nurses
  • Pilates instructors

These Healthcare professionals work hand-in-hand with our artistic team in a fully integrated approach with their continued research and medical insight informing the School’s System of Training.

Health screening and profiling

As part of this integrated approach to healthcare, students throughout the whole school undergo termly screening and profiling exercises, to gather research data and create individual conditioning programmes to support them in their training.

Sports science research

The school now uses a research database called Smartabase, to underpin the work of the Healthy Dancer Programme. Smartabase is used by healthcare teams at both The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, which means our three organisations can collaborate, sharing research to contribute invaluable insights and expertise to the wider dance community.

We work with leading renowned institutions, such as Queen Mary University of London and St Mary’s University, Twickenham, to achieve our aim to bring dance to the forefront of sports science.

The school is embedding research within its programme, including through a resident PhD in Sports Science. Fully understanding dancers’ needs through this work means we can offer the best possible support.

Partnership with the English Institute of Sport

We have also formed an exciting and unprecedented new partnership with the English Institute of Sport, which provides the school with the best possible nutrition support.

This collaboration opens up access to the varied and extensive network of nutritionists that the EIS employ, with a nutritionist working with students and our catering team two days a week. In addition, the school can access the EIS’s wider working groups, investigating areas such as menstrual dysfunction and disordered eating which are both prevalent in all sport, and particularly aesthetic art forms.

Mental health and well-being

The team also includes Counsellors as part of a school-wide mental health provision led by a clinical psychologist Mental Health and Safeguarding Lead. The Counsellors not only look after students’ psychological well-being, they also support their training with an emphasis on performance psychology.

Excellence comes at a price

Delivering an outstanding healthcare programme comes at a price – over £3,325 per student, per year. This is around 10% of the annual cost of their training and education at the School. Justifiable, given the importance of the physical and mental wellbeing of a young dancer pursuing world-class vocational training.

Although generously underwritten in the short-term by one of our Governors, and now also supported by a number of individuals and Trusts, the School must raise significant sums every year to sustain this essential element of our dancers’ training going forward. If you would like to support this pioneering work, please contact:

Sarah Eliot Cohen – Head of Development & Communications
[email protected].

We would like to thank Angela Bernstein and Sarah Dorfman for their belief in this programme from the start and for their enormous generosity. We are also most grateful to the following who are currently supporting this ambitious programme.

  • Justin and Celeste Bickle
  • Susan Burns
  • EBM Charitable Trust
  • Richard and Janeen Haythornthwaite
  • Headley Trust
  • Joanna Kaye
  • Mohamed L Mansour
  • Maaike McInnes
  • The Mercers’ Charitable Trust
  • David and Wendy Meller
  • Tony and Sonja Page
  • Quercus Trust
  • The Royal Opera House Benevolent Fund
  • Kevin and Olga Senior
  • The Swire Charitable Trust
  • The Thompson Family Charitable Trust
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