Skip to main content

London teens perform dance inspired by National Gallery collection

London teens to perform dance inspired by National Gallery collection at The Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge

Issued : May 2009

The results of a unique collaboration between The Royal Ballet School and the National Gallery will receive a premier performance at The Royal Ballet School’s Margot Fonteyn Theatre, at the recently redeveloped Lower School, White Lodge at Richmond Park on May 8 and May 9.

Last December, 66 students from The Royal Ballet School, Forest Hill School and Sydenham Girls’ School met for the first time to begin producing their own creative responses to the theme of ‘the moving body’ as depicted in the National Gallery’s collection. They took part in discussion and drawing sessions at the National Gallery, followed by a creative movement workshop at The Royal Ballet Upper School in Covent Garden.

Since then the students, who are all aged 13-15, have been working with The Royal Ballet School’s Dance Partnership and Access Programme and one of the National Gallery’s freelance artists to create original dance and sculpture.

The dance and art projects focused 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'.

Photographs of the sculptures and a film about the project will be on display in the National Gallery in autumn 2009.

Since its founding in 2004, The Royal Ballet School’s Dance Partnership and Access Programme has worked extensively with London Secondary Schools. The project was also part of the National Gallery’s Line of Vision outreach programme which aims to ensure inclusion for young people. This project represents an exciting opportunity for both these flagship national Arts organisations to extend the scope of their education programmes.

Colin Wiggins, National Gallery Head of Education, said:

“When the Gallery was founded in 1824, one of its stated aims was to provide a resource for the inspiration of young artists. Never did anyone say that this should be limited to visual artists and it is always exciting to break down barriers between different artistic disciplines. 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.”

Jay Jolley, Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet School commented:

“The Royal Ballet School has always provided the highest quality dance training for exceptionally talented students. We are proud that the Dance Partnership and Access Programme now provides a unique opportunity to extend the work of the School to more young people. Collaboration with the National Gallery has provided a wonderful opportunity to add a further dimension to our programme.”


Forest Hill School and Sydenham Girls’ School with The Royal Ballet School in collaboration with The National Gallery

Friday 8 May 2009 at 7.15pm
Saturday 9 May 2009 at 3pm

Margot Fonteyn Studio Theatre, The Royal Ballet Lower School, White Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey TW10 5HR

For further press information please contact:

Nicola Jeffs at the National Gallery on 020 7747 2532 or at

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

Notes to Editors

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 13th to the early 20th 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.


As part of its wider strategic objective to provide access to the collection, The National Gallery is committed to finding imaginative and illuminating ways to nurture interest in it’s collection among a wide and diverse public.

The Gallery’s outreach programme plays an intrinsic role in delivering this objective. The outreach projects are targeted at key community groups are designed to creatively engage audiences who may encounter physical, emotional and intellectual barriers to accessing the collection through other educational provision.

By offering a range of interactive outreach projects the Gallery seeks to ensure that people who may have traditionally felt excluded are encouraged to experience and respond to the National Gallery collection.

Through its outreach programmes the Gallery has developed partnerships with both London-based and regional community groups and broadly aims to support social and cultural inclusion for people of all ages from a diverse range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

All projects take as their starting point close observation and discussion of focus paintings from The National Gallery’s collection. The scope and theme of each project is tailored to the specific needs and interests of each participant group.

Projects are delivered by freelance artists and lecturers and workshops take place either in the Gallery or at a range of offsite venues. These projects provide opportunities for participants to build knowledge, learn new practical and interpersonal skills, develop confidence and explore their own creativity.

The National Gallery is committed to maintaining and developing sustainable outreach programmes as we believe that everyone – regardless of age or background – is entitled to experience, enjoy and be inspired by the paintings in the collection.

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 Scheme 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. Projects culminate in performances at the RBS and a theatre local to the partner school.

RBS Year 10 Lower School students with Forest Hill and Sydenham Girls’ 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 Girls’ 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.

Back to press releases