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Dance inspired by the Collection

Sixty-six South London teens to create original pieces of dance inspired by National Gallery Collection

Issued December 2008

The Royal Ballet School is to launch the latest development of a four-year education campaign by collaborating with the National Gallery. On 8 December, 66 students from The Royal Ballet School, Forest Hill School and Sydenham Girls School will meet for the first time to begin the process of producing their own creative responses to the theme of the moving body as depicted in the National Gallery’s collection.

This collaboration also marks a new departure for Line of Vision – the National Gallery’s outreach programme, which has been running for the past six years. Line of Vision aims to ensure inclusion for young people by providing practical opportunities for them to engage with the Gallery’s collection.

All 66 students will take part in discussion and drawing sessions at the National Gallery, followed by a creative movement workshop to be held at The Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden.

It is the first time a collaboration of this sort has taken place between The Royal Ballet School and the National Gallery. It offers an exciting opportunity for the National Gallery to extend the scope of its outreach programme for young people. It also marks a new development in The Royal Ballet School’s campaign to provide opportunities for Royal Ballet School students and state school pupils to work collaboratively.

The young people will work with teachers from The Royal Ballet School’s Dance Partnership and Access Programme and a contemporary artist to create pieces of original dance and sculptures – all inspired by the moving body as portrayed in a selection of National Gallery paintings.

The dance and art projects will focus on two paintings by Michelangelo: The Manchester Madonna and The Entombment, as well as Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne and Giordano’s Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone.

The young people will discuss and explore the themes, figures, shapes, colours, rhythms and forms found in the paintings before embarking on their own work.

Dance students from The Royal Ballet School, Forest Hill School and Sydenham Girls’ School will create original pieces of choreography, while art students from The Royal Ballet School and Forest Hill School will produce life-size sculptures. The choreography will be presented in The Royal Ballet School’s Margot Fonteyn Theatre, White Lodge, Richmond Park in May 2009 and the sculptures will be showcased at the National Gallery next year.

Emma Rehm, National Gallery Outreach Officer, said, “This collaboration offers a valuable opportunity for young people to experience the paintings first-hand, discuss their responses and engage creatively with the National Gallery’s collection by using it as an inspiration for their own work. It is particularly exciting that they will be exploring it through the dance as well as the visual arts.”

Ginny Brown, Royal Ballet School Dance Partnership and Access Programme Manager, said, “We are delighted to be extending our work by collaborating with the nation’s foremost art gallery. This association not only brings together young people with different skills and experiences but unites two non-verbal art forms by taking inspiration from the moving body.”

For more information/images contact
Nicola Jeffs, Assistant Press Officer, The National Gallery,
020 7747 2532

Jim Fletcher, Development Manager, The Royal Ballet School
020 7845 7074/ 07768 455667

Notes to Editors

1. The National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of Western European paintings from the late thirteenth to the early twentieth century. No other collection possesses such consistent quality, nor better tells the story of Western European painting.

The collection belongs to the nation and serves a diverse public from the UK and overseas. It is open to all, 361 days of the year, free of charge. Between 4 and 5 million people visit the National Gallery each year. Almost all of the 2,300 paintings in the National Gallery’s collection are on permanent display. The collection represents the greatest Western European painters including van Eyck, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Rubens, Velázquez, Van Dyck, Titian and Bellini.

The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors.

The National Gallery is committed to developing its out-of-school provision, fostering a number of creative partnerships with the local and wider community.
Young people are targeted in a special outreach programmes, extending opportunity for new quality experiences, providing positive role models, and encouraging sustainable access to the National Gallery Collection.

Events are wide ranging, and have included work with artists both in the Gallery and off-site.

2. The Royal Ballet School

The Royal Ballet School is one of the world’s great ballet schools. A vocational ballet school participating in the DCSF Music and Dance Scheme, the School's mission is to train and educate classical ballet dancers to the highest standards and to provide an accessible resource for students, teachers and the wider community

The Dance Partnership & Access Programme aims to: 

  • Create a positive image of The Royal Ballet School as a leading national resource to support the development of excellence in dance for students, teachers and other dance organisations
  • Develop skills and knowledge in ballet with pupils and teachers through appropriate programmes of training, creativity, cultural and artistic exchange
  • Create opportunities for students, teachers and the broader general public to access the School’s facilities both at Floral Street and White Lodge, Richmond Park
  • Ensure the long term stability of The Royal Ballet School Partnership & Access projects by working closely with regional and national dance organisations and funding bodies and guarantee suitable training for staff to support the delivery of activities

aDvANCE – Specialist Schools Partnership Scheme

The Specialist School Partnership aims to widen access to the unique resources of The Royal Ballet School by establishing partnerships with Specialist Performing Arts and Sports Colleges.

Participating schools are invited to select from a menu of activities designed to introduce pupils to ballet and The Royal Ballet School.

Two Specialist Schools take part in longer term projects each year. These are designed to facilitate an exchange of skills between The Royal Ballet School students and Specialist School students.

Students from both schools work with a choreographer once a week for a term to create a joint piece. These projects culminate in performances at the RBS and a theatre local to the partner school.

RBS Year 10 Lower School students and Forest Hill and Sydenham School students

Forest Hill School is an all-boys comprehensive school situated in the London Borough of Lewisham. In July 2005, Forest Hill School was awarded specialist status in the performing arts. As a specialist school they provide an extensive programme of arts education linked to their specialist subjects of music, drama and dance. Dance is offered as an extra-curricular activity to all year groups (yrs 7–11) at lunch times and after school. Dance is taught to all year 7–9 students for six weeks a year, and offered to gifted and talented students in the summer. GCSE dance is now available to the year 10s.

Sydenham School is an all-girls comprehensive school with students aged 11–16. Sydenham is a Specialist Science school but also has Arts Mark Gold status, which recognizes their commitment to providing opportunities across all the arts, from drama to music, design to literature, and dance to sculpture. Dance is taught throughout the year groups and is offered as a GCSE.

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