Duchess of Cornwall Opens New Royal Academy of Dance Global HQ

Darcey Bussell and RAD Chief Executive tour HRH round the new building

Local dance student Mia presents her Royal Highness with a posy. Picture: David Tett
Local dance student Mia presents her Royal Highness with a posy. Picture: David Tett

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has formally opened the Royal College of Dance’s newly built Head Quarters on York Road. Following a dance display from performers of all ages, showcasing their talents ranging from classical ballet to contemporary dance, the Duchess was invited on stage to unveil the academy’s new commemorative plaque.

"As the very proud Vice-Patron of the RAD, I would like to congratulate everybody who has made this wonderful new building possible,” said Her Royal Highness. “Having had a very short tour of it, seeing its complete magnificence, it’s just doing so much for so many young people - and old people like me. As a Silver Swan myself, I was inspired by my first visit here to try it out and I have been doing it ever since."

RAD President Darcey Bussell and Chief Executive Luke Rittner showed the Duchess round the newly finished HQ. Included in her visit was a look at a Silver Swans ballet class for learners aged over 55, with Silver Swans Licensee, and The Duchess’ own teacher, Sarah Platt, delivering a class in the studio. Her Royal Highness is herself a ‘swan’, as part of her ongoing commitment to championing active aging.

The Duchess of Cornwall and Darcey Bussell watch a Silver Swans class. Picture: David Tett
The Duchess of Cornwall and Darcey Bussell watch a Silver Swans class. Picture: David Tett

As part of the tour, The Duchess was also able to meet participants from the RADiate programme, which provides subsidised inclusive dance classes designed to develop the physicality and boost the self-esteem of children and young people with additional learning needs.

The RDA’s new building will enable the dance school to expand on its 100-year commitment to high-quality dance education. New features include enhanced education and training facilities for students and teachers, including seven large dance studios, a café and a shop.

The new building is now also home to a long-wished-for 193-seat performance space to showcase the RAD’s dancing talent. Following the move from the more cramped spaces in Battersea Square, Darcey Bussell said: “Today marks the start of an important new chapter for the RAD. By way of our high-quality classical ballet training, our teachers empower hundreds of thousands of young people annually worldwide and spread the joy of dance across the community.”

The newly unveiled RAD HQ. Picture: Royal Academy of Dance
The newly unveiled RAD HQ. Picture: Royal Academy of Dance

On display for the first time will be a fully accessible archive showcasing the RAD’s immense collection of 75,000 artefacts, books, programmes, letters, relics and costumes, which can be viewed by appointment with the archivist.

Luke Rittner CBE, RAD Chief Executive said: “I am delighted to welcome our Vice-Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to help launch our new global headquarters. Destined to become a home for dance, this exciting new chapter in the Academy’s 100 plus year history symbolises our commitment to excellence in all aspects of dance education and teaching.”

As part of the RAD’s outreach programme The Duchess also congratulated the winner of an art competition for primary school pupils in Wandsworth. Key Stage 1 and 2 students were invited to submit artwork inspired by how dance makes them feel. Winner Richard, aged eight, from Alderbrook Primary School was introduced – alongside runners-up Indiana and Genevieve – to her Royal Highness and showed her his winning work.

The Royal Academy of Dance is an independent educational charity that doesn’t receive regular government funding. A spokesperson said, “Every penny we make goes back into the work we do which includes our cultural engagement plans with our diverse communities.”

If you’d like to make a donation to the RAD click here.

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March 23, 2021