Ballet Schools Worldwide Commit to a Collective Future with aDvANCE Conference

Central School of Ballet Artistic Director, Kate Coyne, and 17 Directors, Principals, and CEOs from Ballet schools and junior companies worldwide have come together to renew their collective commitment to a positive future for classical ballet training.

The aDvANCE conference took place over three days at The Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge in Richmond Park from 28 September to 1 October 2023. The conference focused on understanding today’s students’ experience of elite training and working together to facilitate nurturing studio environments and organisational cultures.

Christopher Powney conceived of the conference with the support of Jaimie Tapper Deputy CEO, Shoreditch Trust, Organisational Psychologist; Trustee, Studio Wayne McGregor; Trustee, Prix de Lausanne. Delia Barber, Managing Director, Brixton House; Chair, Phoenix Dance Theatre; Governor, Royal Ballet School joined Jaimie in facilitating the weekend.

The conference aimed to inspire open conversation, to promote continuous improvement and a process of sharing and learning from each other. The representatives sought to identify current and future challenges for their organisations and the wider industry, as well as explore and develop solutions and best practices. They were also tasked with establishing ways for the international industry to forge closer and mutually beneficial ties.

Christopher Powney said, ‘In a fast-paced, rapidly changing world, building a community where we can work together to respond to challenges is essential. As educators entrusted with the nurturing of young people and leaders of elite performance environments, our shared focus is the needs of our students and their carers and how we can shape the future of training for our evolving industry with those needs in mind.’

Through small and whole group discussions, delegates addressed pertinent topics such as understanding and recognising the evolving needs of students and their carers; improving communication between school and student, and building a culture of trust; empowering students in the training environment; and nurturing students holistically, developing whole life skills alongside attributes needed for a future as a professional dancer.

The group also discussed the changing expectations of the ballet industry, how to support students through the transition to employment, whether in a performance or non-dance pathway, and how we can forge relationships with industry leaders to drive change in our art form.

“The conference was a transformational experience for the delegates of aDvANCE. To be amongst peers from all over the world and to discuss attitudes and practices that we would like to see and be a part of was inspirational. We brought together collective learning and focus and Central is proud to be a part of this important motivational network that is born of a love of the artform, but that is dedicated to developing ways to move forward and be relevant to the industry as it develops.” – Kate Coyne