Below is a summary of the greatest academies in the history of classical ballet. These
histories were well known to Fonteyn as she plotted the blueprint for her own vision of
this type of institution. She understood that she would be starting something new, and
felt strongly that it had to start after the new century began. The Margot Fonteyn
Academy of Ballet is a humble beginning that perhaps will some day grow into an
institution like these historic ones, while also pushing the bar higher and raising
standards for breadth of education for the ballet dancer.
Royal Ballet School - London
The founding of the school came in 1926, when Dame Ninette de Valois opened her
Academy of Choreographic Art. Inspired to create a repertory ballet company and
school, she collaborated with Lilian Baylis, lessee and Manager of the Old Vic Theatre.
When Lilian Baylis acquired the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, de Valois moved the School
there in 1931 and it became The Vic-Wells Ballet School feeding dancers into The
Vic-Wells Ballet Company. In 1939 the school was re-named The Sadler’s Wells
Ballet School and the Company became The Sadler’s Wells Ballet.
In 1946 The Sadler’s Wells ballet moved to a permanent home at the Royal Opera
House, Covent Garden. A second company was formed, The Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Ballet. In 1947 the School moved from Sadler’s Wells Theatre to Barons Court and
general education was, at last, combined with vocational ballet training.
The Lower School moved to White Lodge, Richmond Park in 1955/56 and became
residential, combining general education and vocational ballet training. The Upper
School remained at Barons Court.
The Royal Charter was granted in October 1956 and the School and companies were
renamed The Royal Ballet School, The Royal Ballet and the Sadler’s Wells Royal
Ballet (later renamed Birmingham Royal Ballet following its move there in 1990).
From that time the School has become both the leading classical ballet school in the
United Kingdom earning government support and an international institution which
attracts the very best ballet students worldwide. The calibre of students graduating
from the school is self-evident. Previous Royal Ballet School students include: Dame
Margot Fonteyn, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Peter Wright, Dame Antoinette Sibley,
Sir Anthony Dowell, Dame Merle Park, Monica Mason OBE, Lynn Seymour,
Marcia Haydee, Jiri Kylian, David Wall, Lesley Collier CBE, Wayne Eagling,
Stephen Jefferies, Marion Tait CBE, David Bintley CBE, Leanne Benjamin,
Darcey Bussell OBE, Alina Cojocaru, Miyako Yoshida, Adam Cooper, Jonathan
Cope CBE, Christopher Hampson, Kevin O’Hare, Ivan Putrov and Christopher
In January 2003 the Upper School moved to new premises in Floral Street, alongside
London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The state of the art studios are
linked to The Royal Ballet by the award winning Bridge of Aspiration thus fulfilling
Madam’s dream to have Company and School side by side in the centre of London.