Thursday, 20 August 2009

Désirée Ballantyne @ White Lodge, The Royal Ballet School

I recently interviewed Désirée Ballantyne, a Soloist from English National Ballet, for my "Cupcakes & Conversation with ..." series.

Désirée studied at the Royal Ballet School (White Lodge, in Richmond Park - at almost 2500 acres, it is the largest Royal Park in London and is home to around 650 free roaming deer).

I caught up with Désirée again to talk about her student days.

Can you tell me about your time at White Lodge ?
I will always remember my first day so clearly, standing at the foot of my bed in the dormitory and looking out at the faces of all the other 11 year old girls who were just like me, all with the same hope and dream, to become a ballerina. Standing there, I felt like I was at the beginning of a journey.

The 5 years I spent at White Lodge were information packed and so much of what I learnt invaluable - in fact, the lessons I learnt at White Lodge have become fundamental to who I am now. I remember being told one day that everyone I would meet during my time in the school would become people I would end up working with professionally. It is so true! I now work with many people I went to school with!

What did you enjoy about performing at the Open Days outside on the lawn ?
Performing first and foremost, and also I was always so proud to be able to show the endeavours of that year’s hard work to my parents.

How did you feel studying in such an historic building ?
Not only was it a great privilege to study in a building with such historical significance, but also inspiring to think of all the great dancers who had trained here before me and to hopefully be following in their footsteps.

Désirée Ballantyne dances The Nutcracker

What did you like about being based in Richmond Park ?
It was incredible to be able to study in the midst of such beauty and wildlife. There was nothing like waking up every morning to such magnificent views and hope to catch a glimpse of a deer in the distance.

Did you get the opportunity to visit Richmond and the surrounding area ?
Yes we would often go for walks in the Park and we were allowed to go to Sheen on weekends as of 3rd year; by the 5th year we were allowed to go to Richmond.

What did you dance at the Richmond Fair on The Green ?
I can't remember in exact detail but I performed in various historical and National dances.

Did you ever meet anyone famous ?
Darcey Bussell stood out among other prominent figures of the ballet world. Darcey came to the school one afternoon to talk to us about life as a dancer, it was very inspirational.

What do you remember about your audition to White Lodge ?
I remember the studio we were auditioned in very clearly, even though as a Junior Associate I was used to going to Barons Court. It was almost as if that day the studio had a certain weight to it, it was where I wanted to be. Also I remember the nervous wait for the interview where we'd hear the result of the audition!

Any advice for aspiring ballet dancers ?
It is an incredible opportunity for anyone in their lives to be able to end up doing the job they want to do and love, hence my advice for any aspiring ballet dancer who really wants to succeed is to make every second count in the studio because it is that culmination of every drop of sweat, blood and tears that will get you to where you want to be.

You can read more about the Royal Ballet School students dancing at the Richmond May Fair here.

Here is a report on this year's Open Day, held on a blazingly hot day to full capacity.

Incidentally, the exquisitely beautiful and delicate sculptures of dancers by Richard MacDonald (pictures in the report) are still at White Lodge, if you want to see them (see below for details of the Museum).

White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre
Entry to the White Lodge Museum is free of charge, but visitors must register in advance. Normal opening hours during term time are Tuesdays and Thursdays 13.30-15.30, with alternative times available for groups or special visits. Please call 020-8392 8440.


  1. Hi,
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I really appreciate it. I am going to take a little time to peruse through your blog. I love ballet, but have never seen a live performance. That is on my bucket list to do someday.

  2. Dear Elise, tx for visiting me and liking my blog! Bcoz of my tight schedule at work, i'm unable to blog these days but i miss blogging a lot!!!!! Will come to ur blog again once i'm free! Just wanted to say thanq!

  3. What a great interview! I did Ballet when I was younger -- oh how I wish I were as flexible now! Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Hello Elise, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. I have enjoyed reading your blog. What a beautiful world ~ Ballet.
    Have a pretty day, Gail

  5. I am so happy you stopped by for a visit to "Home is Where the Heart is". I am pleased to meet you.
    What a wonderful job and blog you have. I love the ballet, the dancers are so beautiful.
    I will be visiting often.
    Take care and enjoy your day,

  6. Lovely post! I love ballet, but have never seen a live performance. I hope to one day- I have always loved this youtube ballet video- seen here:Polina Seminova

    PS- I'm having a really cute giveaway on my blog- Pleaase check it out-thxs

  7. Elise,
    Thanks so much for the lovely comment!

  8. oh, why thankyou so much dear! your comment means so much to me ♥

  9. Thanks very much for the lovely comment you left on my blog! Very encouraging, as I've only just started blogging.. Thankyou! (:

  10. I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely comments about my blog! I am now following yours - as a former ballet dancer and avid theatre goer (I go to pretty much every ballet in London) yours is of huge interest to me too so I look forward to reading it!

  11. Thanks for visiting my blog and the nice comments. I have so enjoyed reading your posts. What a fun career you have chosen for yourself. Your interview was wonderful. Exactly the questions I would have liked to hear the answers too. Sharon

  12. Hi Elise, thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving such a sweet comment! I really appreciate it! Your blog looks so interesting, I will be back to visit!! :) Silke

  13. thank you for you're lovely comment :) i used to dance until i was 16...the one thing i wish i had of done though was ballet :(...

    looby xx

  14. Your blog is great, too, thanks for the sweet comment, xx

  15. Hi Elise! Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and leaving such a lovely comment! Your blog is beautiful. Is there anything more beautiful and elegant than ballet!!?

  16. My daughter Eleanor has just finished her first year at White Lodge....home for summer (we live 204 miles away)she has just read your article, seated on my lap. She has a huge grin from ear to ear, as she nods knowingly at all that is written.

    Your blog is very special to this family. Thank you.

  17. Your blog is beautiful. Congratulations on casting such an inviting glow on the world of ballet. I have yet to take in a performance of the National Ballet in Scotland, but I will let you know when I do!

  18. What a wonderful interview! It's wonderful seeing people follow their dreams and make them a reality!

  19. Wow Hi,
    I'm so impressed!! I love the ballet, and I use to teach ballet a long time ago.
    How wonderful your blog is!
    Thanks for visiting mine and for your sweet comments.
    You a profession writer, me not so much!!

  20. hello Elise...thanks for stopping by my blog today, your pictures are absolutely lovely.

  21. awww thanks for the lovely comment! and for dropping by my blog ^^
    you're the lucky one to be knowing so much about ballet! that's awesome.
    i've never seen a real live performance, I definitely want to do that someday!
    i think google is okay now. you know how it gets sometimes >_< ahhhh google....

  22. I am so delighted you stopped by Curly's Corner and liked my spot. When my great-niece was little, she took dance and the school put on Swan Lake. Of course, the older kids did the ballet, and they were very good. I can tell you love what you do. How wonderful to be able to get to know the dancers!

  23. Hi, Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog, another great interview, x

  24. I love ballet, and did it for a little while when I was young. Thanks for sharing this great interview, and thankyou for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Cheers!

  25. WOW - Thank you SO much for your lovely comment on my blog! I am so flattered that you think I am well written + that you love my blog so much! THANK YOU :)

  26. Hello! I just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and the kind comment. I think your ballet pictures are just breathtaking! I secretly always desired to be a ballerina, but my Mom put me in music instead. Piano, then violin were how I spent my childhood afternoons. I don't regret it though..
    You have a lovely blog..please come back and visit me :)

  27. Well you have a lovely blog as well and as I can tell I might just have to come back. =)

    Please feel free to stop by again to 'Smiling at every Sunrise' and thank you so much for the lovely comment!

    Have a great rest of your week!

  28. Hi Elise, thanks for stopping by. I used to do ballet along with flamenco and tap when I was younger. I've made a few feeble attempts to return but never really stuck to it. I rencetly signed up to a year long course so I will see i through this time. Lovely feature, I'm going to make time to read through older posts too.

  29. I LOVE Ballet! it's my one and only love since i start learning a classic and modern ballet when i was a child. i miss it so much sometimes

  30. thankyou so much for the comment. great interview (: i agree with maggi completely! take care x

  31. your blog is very interesting.I like to add you in my blog roll
    I welcome you to my blog,leave your valuable comments and your link back is welcomed……….

  32. A wonderfully interesting interview!
    Looking forward to your next post:)

  33. Penny - I hope you enjoy reading about ballet here & welcome

    Aruna - welcome & thanks for your comments

    Perfectly Pleasant - thank you for your comments

    Gary & Elizabeth - welcome & thank you for commenting

    Kelly Ann - thank you and welcome. I hope you get to see a live show son - and let us know all about it ! There is nothing like it. Thanks for the video clip

    Lauren - welcome

    Susannah - welcome

    Clare - you're welcome !

    AuroraRose - always great to have professional followers - welcome & thanks

    Sharon - thank you for your comments about my interview. Glad you enjoyed it and the questions were just right

    Silke - welcome & thanks

    Looby - welcome & thanks

    Fran M - welcome & thanks

    Bella Dreams - I don't think so ! Welcome & thanks

    Brian - what can I say ? The ultimate compliment ! Thank you. So lovely to know that you enjoy my posts and that they resonate with Eleanor & your family.

    PurestGreen - welcome & thanks for your comments

    Maggi - welcome & thanks

    Rosemary - welcoe & thanks

    Columbia Lily - thank you and welcome !

    Manju - you must see a live show ! There is nothing quite like it - it's hard to capture on film and you need to experience it first hand... let me know how you get on !

    Sandy - welcome and thank you

    Torie Jayne - thank you

    Kaili - welcome and thank you

    augustlovers - welcome and thank you

    Jerelene - welcome and thank you

    SoFiA - welcome & thanks

    Natalie - thank you for your comments and welcome to the world of ballet

    lolly-jolly - join the club !

    ali - thank you and welcome

    Rajkumar - thank you

    whimsicalpam - welcome and thank you !

  34. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and the sweet comments you left! I am off to look through yours!! I took ballet when I was a child but it never stuck!!! hehehe!

  35. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I love having visitors!

    Your blog is so interesting. What a great idea.

  36. what a lovely blog -thanks you for visiting mine and your lovely blog! I have a post planned soon of ballet photos..

  37. I'm so glad you found my blog and that I, in turn, found yours. I've loved ballet my entire life, though I never had the pleasure of dancing it myself. I grew up in Hawaii, so I can hula :) One of the most memorable moments in my life was the honor of being able to see The Bolshoi Ballet dance Swan Lake. My 3 1/2 year old already loves to dance and I dream of the day I will see her on stage...large or small :)

  38. What a lovely blog, Elise. It's wonderful that
    you visited my blog for my secret obsession
    is ballet and now I know where to come for
    satisfaction. Merci!

  39. Ohhh cutie :)
    thank you very much :)
    first for take the time to read my post and all that stuff :D
    and the pics i dont take all of them, i get it by some webs but thanks anyways:D
    and bytheway i like your blog :D

  40. Jenny S - thank and and welcome

    Yankee Girl - thank you and welcome

    Brayton - thank you and welcome

    AlyGatr - How lovely ! Thank you for your comments and welcome. I hope you will keep us posted as and when your daughter reaches the stage ! And to hula ... well, that's a talent too !

    Cynthia - thank you for your lovely comments and welcome !

    AleHarlow - welcome and thanks

  41. Thanks for your fantastic blogs I read them all the time!



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