HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally opened the new state-of-the-art Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) global headquarters on 10 March in London. Her Royal Highness was given a tour of the building by Chief Executive Luke Rittner CBE, accompanied by RAD President Dame Darcey Bussell DBE.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a class of senior dancers, 55 and over, from Claremont, Perth enjoyed a beginners ballet class connected to the new RAD studios via remote video streaming link, hosted by the West Australian Ballet Centre.
Created as a new international home for dance, the £19.5m building in Battersea London will expand on the RAD’s 100-year commitment to high-quality dance education and will harness the transformational power of dance to reach more people, regardless of age, ability or location. The enhanced education and training facilities for students and teachers include seven large dance studios, a longed for 193-seat performance space, a café and a shop. On display for the first time in its 100+ year history 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 RAD’s 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 RAD’s local and international community through a network of outreach and wellbeing initiatives.
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 the Silver Swans ballet class. Silver Swans Licensee, and The Duchess’ own teacher, Sarah Platt delivered a class in the RAD studio, whilst being joined remotely by a group of dancers from The Taylor Ballet School from Claremont, Perth together with 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.
Jamelia Gubgub, who is a former professional dancer with West Australian Ballet, reflected, “I was most humbled, and I feel incredibly privileged and honoured to represent Silver Swans here in Australia. I’m so proud of all my Silver Swans, they danced beautifully, and it was so lovely to be acknowledged by the RAD in London and also to meet HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.”
Silver Swan Jacqueline from Gubgub’s class said, “Ballet is fantastic for improving your strength and balance which is particularly important to prevent falls as we age, so this is brilliant for that. It was a wonderful experience to be able to dance with Silver Swans from the RAD in London, and meet some new people including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, under the excellent tutelage of Jamelia. We are very grateful for the opportunity.”
Her Royal Highness was also able to meet participants from other RAD programmes before watching a dance presentation in the brand-new studio theatre, which moved from ballet to hip hop. The Duchess then unveiled a commemorative plaque, officially opening the new RAD headquarters.
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 just want to say again how proud I am to be part of it all.”
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. Our new state-of-the-art flagship building will enable us to build on our mission to promote the joy of dance from right on our doorstep to across the globe, bringing opportunities for dancers of all ages and abilities.”