A year of celebrations for the Royal Academy of Dance

Royal Academy of Dance.
Royal Academy of Dance.

2020 is a momentous year for the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) as it celebrates 100 years of educating dance teachers and their students worldwide. Recently, Dance Informa caught up with Rebecca Taylor, National Director of RAD Australia, to talk about this milestone and the organisation’s exciting year ahead.

How will the RAD be celebrating its centenary next year?

“As our official birthday is 31 December 2020, we will be taking the whole year from 1 January, to come together with our dance teaching membership, their students and the general public to host a series of special events.”

Photo courtesy of RAD.
Photo courtesy of RAD.

In which city will the Australian celebrations begin?

“Adelaide! Adelaide has played host for the past two years to a very important event in the RAD student events calendar. In 2017, we launched Project B, a global initiative to encourage and support male dancers, and for the past two years, we have held a boys-only summer workshop in Adelaide, too. Boys have come from all over Australia, and as far afield as Malaysia and New Zealand, to take part and work with our all-male dance faculty. In 2020, we will be incorporating a Boys Dance Challenge. It’s a great opportunity for boys to perform and compete with their peers. And there are some great prizes up for grabs thanks to our partner, Bloch. We are really looking forward to seeing the best male dancers from Australia come together in January to perform for our special guest adjudicator, Gerard Charles, who is the RAD’s artistic director.”

So then, what’s next?

“Still in January, we’re heading over to Melbourne for Shaping Bodies, Shaping Minds, our third dance education conference. The RAD has been a leading voice for dance education for 100 years, and we are committed to continuing that legacy, so we’ll be sharing the latest best practice advice and presenting some of the most innovative ideas and research being undertaken worldwide in dance education.”

I heard you have The Australian Ballet Artistic Director David McAllister, also a vice president of the RAD, as a keynote speaker?

“Yes, we’re thrilled to have David speaking, and he’ll be joined by Dr Michelle Groves, who is our very own director of the Faculty of Education globally. Registrations are open via our website, and we’d like to invite everyone in the dance community, whether they’re dancers, teachers, researchers or scholars to come along.”

So you’ve got competitions and conferences. What’s next on the calendar?

Photo courtesy of RAD.
Photo courtesy of RAD.

“The RAD offers students the chance to achieve and receive recognition and training through its exam syllabus, but what we also try to do is offer our students the opportunity to perform and develop their skills as an artist. We will have Gala performances celebrating the centenary in Melbourne in April, Canberra in May, at the Festival of Dance in WA in June, and in Brisbane in October. We’ll also be taking to the streets with pop-up dance events. We’ll be in Federation Square Melbourne in March, and Rundle Mall Adelaide in April. On both days, we’ll be celebrating with our dancers of all ages and their teachers with performances, demonstrations and a chance for people of all ages to come and give dance a try. We are fortunate to have Harlequin Floors as our partner on these events, supplying a professional dance floor and helping us demonstrate and promote safe dance practice standards.”

I heard you’ll be back at Victorian Dance Festival (VDF) in April.

“Yes. We’ll be returning to the VDF in April to continue our ongoing partnership and offer some special classes as part of our current initiatives. This past April at VDF 2019, we offered training for dance teachers to become Silver Swans Licensees and teach adults over 55 years ballet. We had 23 teachers take part in training, and for next year, we’re inviting those teachers to come back with their students and take part in a free Silver Swans class at VDF. We’re hoping to bring together 100 Swans for the centenary! We will also be once again holding the popular boys superhero class for young men aged three to six years old as part of our Project B initiative.”

You also have a big change coming for your flagship international competition in 2020?

“Yes. In 2020, the Genée International Ballet Competition will become the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition, in recognition of one of our longest serving Presidents and one of the most well-known names in dance. In September next year, the Fonteyn will take place at The Royal Opera House in London, and in Melbourne, we are hosting a special event to celebrate the legacy of the Genée Competition, just hours after the final of the 2020 competition in London on September 6. David McAllister will host this event on our behalf. David will be chatting to some of our past Australian medalists about their experience of the competition and his own experience as a judge in both 2002 and 2016, when the Genée was in Australia. We’ll also be catching up with alumni who are currently dancing around the world professionally, going behind the scenes at the 2020 competition and tracing the development of the competition since it began more than 80 years ago.”

How can dancers and teachers keep up with all your centenary events and announcements?

“We’ll be adding more information on the centenary programme throughout the year, so we’d encourage people to head to our website and check out our activities on the RAD100 page regularly. You’ll also be able to see there what’s happening elsewhere in the worldwide to mark the milestone. And you should definitely keep in touch by subscribing to the RAD Australia Facebook page where we’ll announce updates.”

For more information on the Royal Academy of Dance and its upcoming centenary events, visit au.royalacademyofdance.org/about-the-rad/rad100.

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