10 March 2022 15:00

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally opens new Royal Academy of Dance global headquarters

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally opened the new state-of-the-art Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) global headquarters today, followed by a tour of the building given by RAD Chief Executive, Luke Rittner, CBE, and President, Dame Darcey Bussell.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Photo: David Tett.

Created as a new international home for dance, the new building in Battersea will enable the RAD to expand on its 100-year commitment to high-quality dance education and to bring the transformational power of dance to more people, regardless of age, ability, or location.

New facilities

The enhanced education and training facilities for students and teachers include 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. On display for the first time will be a fully accessible archive showcasing the RAD’s extraordinary collection of 75,000 artefacts, books, programmes, letters, relics and costumes, which can be viewed by appointment with the archivist. The Duchess, Vice-Patron of the RAD since 2020, toured the new building and learnt about how the space is being used to expand on the Academy’s work in the local community through a network of outreach and wellbeing initiatives.

Silver Swans and RADiate

The Duchess was introduced to RAD students training to become dance teachers, each of whom are passionate about shaping and influencing the future of dance. She then continued her visit with 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. They were joined remotely by a class in Perth, Australia and their teacher Jamelia Gubgub for this special occasion. Her Royal Highness is herself a ‘swan’, as part of her ongoing commitment to championing active aging. 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.

Step into Dance

A dance presentation in the brand-new studio theatre, which moved from ballet to hip-hop, included performances from the Step Into Dance initiative. The Step Hip Hop Company who performed for Her Royal Highness is run in association with ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company and trains weekly, developing technique and choreographic skills in dance styles influenced by hip hop culture.

Schools art competition winners

The Duchess also congratulated the winner of the RAD’s art competition for primary schools in Wandsworth. KS1 and KS2 students from across the borough were invited to submit a piece of artwork inspired by how dance makes them feel. Winner Richard age 8 from Alderbrook Primary School was introduced to The Duchess of Cornwall and had the opportunity to present his work to her, alongside the work of runners up Indiana and Genevieve.

As a token of appreciation for her visit, Her Royal Highness was presented with a posey by Dance School student Mia, aged 11. Mia is a student from the local area who takes regular dance classes at the RAD’s headquarters.

A proud Vice-Patron

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall said during the tour: “As the very proud Vice-Patron of the RAD, I would like to congratulate everybody who has made this wonderful new building possible. 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. I’d also like to say a huge thanks to Luke who has done such a wonderful job over the years. I just want to say again how proud I am to be part of it all.”

The Duchess also unveiled a commemorative plaque, officially opening the new Royal Academy of Dance headquarters, made from solid oak by The Oak and Rope Company.

Dame Darcey Bussell, DBE, President of the RAD 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."

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+ year history symbolises our commitment to excellence in all aspects of dance education and teaching."