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New Royal Academy of Dance prepares to train the next generation of stars

·2-min read
 (Elliott Franks)
(Elliott Franks)

Visitors to the new Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) will be able to watch the next generation of star performers learn their trade.

The new building, due to open next year, includes a new 200-seat theatre and “piazzas” where the public can sit and watch dancers at work in some of the seven studios.

RAD Chief Executive Luke Rittner said he hoped the new building, which is just down the road from their old Battersea HQ, would become “a destination” for the public.

The new HQ replacing the “incredibly inaccessible” old building will include a café, shop, archive and space for exhibitions, receptions and lectures with the extra exhibition space will allow the academy to put on show items from its archive that are currently on display at the V&A.

Arts organisations are increasingly opening up to the public and the building’s open plan is reminiscent of English National Ballet’s “translucent” new home in east London which allows commuters at Canning Town station a view of dancers performing.

The trend is also seen in the V&A’s new Stratford storage centre which will be open to the public to see how objects are looked after and researched when they join the collection.

The school had been in its current home since 1972 but started looking for a new base after it faced a potential bill of around £20 million for much-needed modernisation works.

Instead it struck a pioneering deal with developers to move into the new building with the old one being converted into flats and houses.

Rittner admitted funding from supporters had fluctuated over the pandemic and the RAD has enlisted its president Dame Darcey Bussell to launch a campaign encouraging donors to name a seat in the new theatre for between £1,000 and £5,000.

Dame Darcey said the campaign meant anyone could “contribute to the very fabric of our new global ‘home’ for dance” and “enable the RAD to continue its charitable work to empower everyone through dance, regardless of ability or background.”

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