Ten UK ballet schools unite in auditions for September 2021 entry

15 Jul 2020

Image credit: Kate Jackson

In response to COVID-19, the current lockdown and its impact on dance training and the preparation to audition for a coveted place at a specialist dance school, ten of the UK’s leading vocational ballet institutions have come together in support of thousands of young dancers considering the next step in their training and auditioning for September 2021 entry.

The schools working as one in a joint agreement that sees the traditional audition start move from the autumn to January 2021 are Central School of Ballet, English National Ballet School, Elmhurst Ballet School, The Hammond School, KS Dance, Northern Ballet School, Rambert School, The Royal Ballet School, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

By putting back the start of the auditions, prospective students will have more time to consider their options and work through the application process. With the slight delay, the schools hope the young dancers will feel supported and encouraged to audition, despite the effects of lockdown.

Many of the young auditionees apply for more than one school and clock up hundreds of travel miles during the annual round of auditions. The audition process can include submitting a detailed application, a preliminary audition and a final call-back consisting of a ballet class, a tour of the school, an assessment by school physiotherapists and meeting faculty members.

Jessica Wheeler, Principal of Elmhurst Ballet School, said: “We know auditions can be an exciting yet daunting experience for many young dancers and with the added pressures of lockdown creating some uncertainty and anxiety, the schools hope by working together it will give applicants more time to consider their options and prepare for one of the most important steps in securing the next phase of their training and education.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Principals and Directors of all the contributing schools for working together in this way to support the next generation of dancers.”

Viviane Durante, Director of Dance at English National Ballet School, said: “The later audition period will give the schools more time to think about the audition details once Government guidelines have been published so the safety of our future students, family members who often accompany them to audition, staff facilitating the day, and current students remains paramount in any planning and delivery.”

Kate Simmons, Director of KS Dance, said: “Hopefully, this combined decision will take the immediate pressure off students preparing for auditions. It is vital that each individual’s health and well-being is considered as returning to high intensities and volumes of dance too quickly can result in overload and injury. With guidance from the dance science sector, a staged and progressive return to training will allow dancers to gain the strength and confidence they desire for auditions. A similar approach is to be taken for dancers already in full-time training.”

English National Ballet School, Elmhurst Ballet School, The Hammond School, KS Dance, Northern Ballet School, and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts are Accredited members of the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT) which also supports this joint agreement of the ballet schools.