Ballet Border Terrier
Recently I had the huge privilege to spend a day at the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden.The Royal Ballet School is divided into two parts: the Lower School, which is at White Lodge in Richmond, where children from the ages of 11-16 are taught, and the Upper School, which is situated in Floral Street adjacent to the Royal Opera House and takes young dancers from 16-18.
It was a real eye opener to see the dedication and commitment required from these young people to train as professional ballet dancers, but also to gain academic qualifications. The Headmaster of the Upper School had taught my son English at his previous school and what a huge contrast it must be, instead of 200 or so angry teenagers (my son included) he is now surrounded by this small group of highly motivated young achievers. Registration could not be more different instead of half asleep youths with tousled hair, the dancers are all stretched out on the floor and preparing for a day of dance. I suppose the difference is that these young dancers know what they want to do in life and have already set about making it happen.
Like the Royal Ballet Company, the school has a very international flavour, young people come here from all over the world to train in classical ballet. The majority are here on scholarships or individually sponsored by generous benefactors. There are amazing Billy Elliot type stories of extremely talented children coming to dance from completely unlikely backgrounds. Only a few will be invited to join the Company next door but the others will all find work with international dance companies.
With my love of textiles I was completely lost in the Costume Department and could have stayed there for the rest of my life. It was like the dressing-up box of my dreams – exquisitely embroidered tutus and costumes of sumptuous silks lined the walls, all hand worked by a dedicated team of seamstresses. And in the far corner, nestled in a bed of net tutus – the Ballet Border Terrier! At The Great English Outdoors we love our dogs, Athene is the owner of a magnificent lurcher, Boudica, and I have my much adored Border Terriers!! Tarka the Redoubtable who lived almost into her 19th year, Nutmeg and now Mij, aged just 4 months! At the sight of the Ballet BT I was unable to contain my delight, it is now my screen saver and home page on every electrical device I own!!
More excitements were in store, as having watched several groups of young dancers rehearsing in the Studios, we were then invited to have lunch in the Canteen in the Royal Opera House. The Ballet School is attached to the Opera House by an amazing piece of 20th century architecture, known as the Bridge of Aspiration, which I have admired from below many times previously, twisting and contorting across Floral Street. It was hugely exciting just to be crossing the bridge, let alone, going into the heart of the Opera House, seeing yet more rehearsals of famous ballet dancers and then having lunch alongside principal ballerinas and choreographers of the Royal Ballet. I was in heaven!
It was an incredible day, a day of excellence as that is what the Royal Ballet is all about. A huge thank you to the students and teachers of the Royal Ballet School