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The Royal Opera House Celebrates 30 Years of Chance to Dance With Special #WorldBalletDay Film


The film will explore the ways in which the initiative has catalysed systemic change in the industry.  

The Royal Opera House Celebrates 30 Years of Chance to Dance With Special #WorldBalletDay Film

Today, the Royal Opera House will mark 30 years of its flagship learning outreach programme Chance to Dance by broadcasting a special film on 19 October as part of #WorldBalletDay. Featuring commentary by Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare, and testimonies from associate Chance to Dance artists, the film will explore the ways in which the initiative has catalysed systemic change in the industry.

Launched in 1991 with a series of demonstrations and auditions across Hammersmith, Fulham and Lambeth, Chance to Dance gives primary school children from across the country an opportunity to engage creatively with dance for the first time, experience the repertory, and work closely with The Royal Ballet. Originally established in response to the absence of black dancers in the Company, and initially a partnership with Dance Theater Harlem, it brings together local and national dance industry partners to foster greater access to the art form, helping to secure ballet's future by broadening and diversifying the pool of young people entering vocational training with a view to working professionally.

The programme has reached over 30,000 children to date - extending well beyond London to reflect and celebrate a full range of communities and experiences. In September alone, over 700 students aged 7-8 enjoyed a live-streamed demonstration in the West Midlands, and in-person demonstrations at local theatres in Essex and Doncaster - the latter forming part of the Royal Opera House's partnership with Doncaster Council and Cast, a 3-year programme bringing dance, singing and design to every school in the area. Pupils experienced excerpts from ballets including Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, Peter Wright's Giselle, Frederick Ashton's La Fille mal gardée and Mikaela Polley's Quaternion - performed by Royal Ballet Artist Aiden O'Brien and Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Denilson Almeida, James Large and Marianna Tsembenhoi.

This month, The Royal Opera House will broadcast a short film celebrating Chance for Dance's profound impact. Viewers will be able to tune in during The Royal Ballet's five-hour live-stream on #WorldBalletDay, hearing from, among others, Royal Ballet First Artist Hannah Grennell and former English National Ballet dancer Shevelle Dynott.

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said, "We are enormously proud of Chance to Dance and the profound impact it has had over the course of its 30-year history. The scheme has not only encouraged thousands of children to discover, and take part in, ballet, but has also created a truly diverse and talented roster of professional dancers for companies up and down the country. I am delighted to have seen the scheme go from strength-to-strength as we re-double our efforts to ensure that ballet is an art form accessible to, and representative of, all parts of the population."

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