Sunday, 5 July 2009

Strictly Come Ballet Dancing

Today I would like to highlight an article featuring the Royal Ballet Lower School (White Lodge) based in Richmond Park, Surrey. The piece is written by Robert Sandall for The Sunday Times.

Sandall spent a day with the pupils and staff and reports on his findings. The print version has more photo's - so if you want to see them it might be best to try to snap up a copy today while it's available.

Regular readers will know that I regularly feature White Lodge here, and this interview gives a fascinating insight into daily life at the school - something rarely observed.


  1. I was talking to a friend about you and your blog the other day. She was telling me about her God daughter who recently came very close to winning a place at White Lodge, one of the 50/1 who didn't succeed - she is currently at the ballet school for younger dancers, the name and place escape me. She was saying how wonderful White Lodge was and how excited her God daughter was to come so close.Lovely to read in more detail about it in this article.S

  2. Thank you Sarah; how lovely that you remember my blog to others !

    I found the article interesting, partly because, as a rule, the school borders on secretive when it comes to letting people see day to day activites, let alone reporting on them, but also because of the openness of the students and how welcoming they were - almost as if unknown visitors were a rarity !

    I can't really see that his last paragraph is really the case. Of the "carrot and stick" approach to encouraging children, I doubt much of the stick is required, because the students know very well how lucky they are to be there and how quickly it can all change. But I'm sure there must be quite a bit of carrot - to be creative and to flourish the children have to know when they are doing well, no matter how hard the work is to achieve it.

  3. not sure this article gives a complete view of what it's like to board at White Lodge - how can it when the author has no prior knowledge presumably ? Much better to find a journalist who has experience in this field - maybe you would give it a shot ?

  4. Hello again....the article by the Sunday Times saddened me. I fear the writer had an agenda.

    I can only speak from my own experience and say that my daughter absolutely loves life at White Lodge in every way, and according to her, that view is shared by her friends/ peers. The article didn't say much about the pastoral care/ family groupings, which make life there so much more homely than one might infer. And if some of the teaching is demanding, well my daughter doesn't mind that as she knows her "end product" will be so much better. Who wants mediocrity in this art form?

    Finally the idea of focussing much of the article on a leaver and a day-girl (obviously the exception ) seems rather pointed.

    My family is immensely proud of my little girl, and the parents I talk to feel the same. Unless I have missed something, the sense of pride doesn't ooze from the Times article....anyway, watching the Junior School perform in the Linbury on Saturday was a tonic to me and my family.

    There again, perhaps it takes more than a day to understand the workings of this incredible school.

  5. Yes I agree with you Brian. I didn't for one moment fel that the article conveyed what it really is like to be at the school, particularly to board there.

    I also agree with the poster who commented on whether or not the journalist had any experience of the school.

    I think not. As you say, it's not possible in one day.

    Whatever the aim of the article, I'm not convinced that it portrayed life there accurately.

  6. thank you to Anon - very kind of you to mention me as a journalist experienced in this field.

    Sadly, at White Lodge, it's not quite that simple....

  7. Dear my daughter's first year at White Lodge comes to an end (the grand defile....what a way to bow out!!)....I just wanted to say how much I enjoy each and every one of your articles. They are to the pointe (sic) and highly relevant...and, more importantly) very balanced.
    There is more I would like to do to support your endeavours but current protocol makes this the meantime, I wish you a happy summer and, please, keep up your excellent work.

  8. Dear Brian,

    Thank you so much for all of your support and kind comments.

    I was there today - wow ! what a show. I will report later on/tomorrow. I'm guessing by the timing of your post that you weren't there ? I was in the press "enclosure" and one unruly journalist (naming no names) caused much disruption but could not spoil the show.

    In particular, thank you so much for supporting my efforts to follow a dancer (hopefully Eleanor) through the school. I completely understand the protocol; certainly it makes things difficult but I hope, eventually, not impossible. It's a wonderful place and there is so much good to report !

    I also wish you and your family a great summer.

  9. great piece, thank s very much for the details.


If you've got this far and would like to leave a comment, well, YES YOU CAN.

I'd be delighted to hear from you & will respond when I can (I'm not glued to my computer so please be patient).

Please don't post spam, and constructive critique is the way to go if you want to post a comment which is anything less than nice ! Thanks.