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About the Company
The Royal Ballet School enjoys worldwide recognition as a renowned institution for classical ballet training. Its Royal Charter, linking it with the Royal Ballet Companies, assures its purpose and its commitment to excellence. The founding of the School came in 1926, when Dame Ninette de Valois opened her Academy of Choreographic Art. Inspired to create a repertory ballet company and school, she collaborated with Lilian Baylis, lessee and Manager of the Old Vic Theatre. When Lilian Baylis acquired the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, de Valois moved the School there in 1931, and it became The Vic-Wells Ballet School feeding dancers into The Vic-Wells Ballet Company. In 1939, the school was re-named The Sadler’s Wells Ballet School, and the Company became The Sadler’s Wells Ballet. In 1946 The Sadler’s Wells Ballet moved to a permanent home at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. A second company was formed, The Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1947, the School moved from Sadler’s Wells Theatre to Barons Court and general education was, at last, combined with vocational ballet training. The Lower School moved to White Lodge, Richmond Park in 1955–56 and became residential, combining general education and vocational ballet training. The Upper School remained at Barons Court.

The Royal Charter was granted in October 1956, and the School and companies were renamed The Royal Ballet School, The Royal Ballet and the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (later renamed Birmingham Royal Ballet following its move there in 1990). From that time, the school has become both the leading classical ballet school in the United Kingdom, earning government support and an international institution, which attracts the very best ballet students worldwide. The caliber of students graduating from the school is self-evident. Previous Royal Ballet School students include: Dame Margot Fonteyn, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Peter Wright, Dame Antoinette Sibley, Sir Anthony Dowell, Dame Merle Park, Monica Mason OBE, Donald MacLeary OBE, Lynn Seymour, Marcia Haydee, Jiri Kylian, David Wall, Lesley Collier CBE, Wayne Eagling, Stephen Jefferies, Marion Tait CBE, David Bintley CBE, Leanne Benjamin OBE, Darcey Bussell OBE, Alina Cojocaru, Miyako Yoshida, Adam Cooper, Jonathan Cope CBE, Christopher Hampson, Kevin O’Hare, Ivan Putrov and Christopher Wheeldon.

In January 2003, the Upper School moved to new premises in Floral Street, alongside London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The state-of-the-art studios are linked to The Royal Ballet by the award-winning Bridge of Aspiration, thus fulfilling Dame Ninette’s dream to have Company and School side by side in the centre of London.

Gailene Stock AM, Director of The Royal Ballet School, trained initially in Australia and then at The Royal Ballet Upper School as a result of a scholarship awarded by the Royal Academy of Dance. Stock danced as a Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, performing many of the leading roles in the major classics and also many dramatic works. Following a 16 year professional dancing career, she accepted the position of Director of the National Theatre Ballet School, Victoria, Australia for eight years and The Australian Ballet School for nine years, before taking on the role of Director of The Royal Ballet School in 1999. In 1997, Stock was awarded the Order of Australia for services to ballet. Internationally acclaimed, her knowledge and experience is regularly sought in the dance community worldwide. She has participated as a jury member in many international competitions including the role of President of the Prix de Lausanne, Switzerland and the Youth America Grand Prix, New York.


Related Articles
Review - "'Proteges': Ballet Steps From the Past Into a Bright Future": The Washington Post - Washington, DC (Jan. 28, 2006)

Review - "Showcase for the World's Young Dancers": The Washington Post - Washington, DC (Jan. 28, 2006)