As I left my office for the last time I was amazed at the wave of emotions that ran through me. In an organisation that is over 100 years old, my five years at the RAD (especially with the disruptions of the pandemic) may not seem a significant span of time.

Having semi-retired after a career of over 40 years in ballet, the opportunity to work at the RAD arose. I thought it a great chance to circle back to the country where my life and career in dance began, and by returning to my roots, I hoped to help develop fertile ground for the coming generations of dancers – and hopefully to contribute to building a better tomorrow for the world of ballet that had given me so much.

I had a pretty good base knowledge of the RAD, but my years here have proven that I only knew a small part of what it is, and what it can be. I am grateful for all I have learnt by working here and for getting to know those with similar passions for our art form. It has been an adventure, a whirlwind to the very last moment, and a pleasure to work with those who have stimulated and challenged me during my time at the RAD.

‘My personal reward has always been in finding ways to help others succeed’


My personal reward has always been in finding ways to help others succeed. We cannot make a difference alone, and most of the ideas I have been working towards came from others around the world as potential solutions to their concerns. Fully aware that our world is a different place than the one in which many of us grew up, we have worked hard to lay a groundwork to build a better future and hopefully provide a solid foundation to spur the RAD forward.

Although I regret retiring at a point when there is so much more to accomplish I realise that life is continually moving forward, and there will always be more to achieve. I thought the time right for someone else to champion the vital artistic goals of the RAD into the future.

I look forward to seeing the future successes of our teachers and students as they benefit from the support they will receive from the RAD.

In keeping with our ballet tradition, I end with offering you a grand reverence to say that what you have seen was for you – and thank you.



After Dancing Times ceased publication following 112 years in print, its archive is now housed at the RAD’s headquarters in London. The archive comprises around 38,000 black and white and colour prints, spanning the period from c1920–2000, making it one of the world’s largest collections of 20th-century dance.

Dancing Times was Britain’s oldest monthly dance magazine, founded in 1910 by Philip Richardson, who also founded the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain (later the Royal Academy of Dance) in 1920. The RAD will be a natural home for the extensive archive, and this acquisition has been made possible by generous support from the Linbury Trust who have made a grant towards supporting the acquisition, preservation and cataloguing of the archive, as well as enabling education opportunities for RAD students and the wider dance community.

Tim Arthur, Chief Executive of RAD, welcomes the news, saying, ‘not only was the Dancing Times pivotal in the creation of our organisation, it was a much-loved magazine that provided vital discourse around our art form. We are very touched that it has entrusted us with its beautiful collection, which we will proudly house in the Wolfson Library and RAD Archive here in Wandsworth, London.’

Eleanor Fitzpatrick, Archives and Records Manager says, ‘we are delighted to receive this incredible resource which both complements and broadens our existing collections. We look forward to preserving it as an important historical and valuable research tool for the dance community now and in the future.’ Jonathan Gray, Editor of the Dancing Times from 2008 until its closure, adds, ‘I am thrilled that this wonderful collection and resource has been saved for the nation and that it is going to be looked after by an organisation so closely associated with the Dancing Times.’

The collection includes photographs of classic productions; dance icons from Fred Astaire, Alvin Ailey and Margot Fonteyn to Carlos Acosta and Darcey Bussell; dance competitions and schools. The RAD has begun the process of transferring it to the Archive: a full catalogue is expected to take two years to complete.

To learn more about philanthropically supporting the Dancing Times photographic archive and work of the Academy, please contact the Development team for a private conversation: / +44 2073268996

Anna Pavlova as The Dragonfly. She inscribed this photo (taken by Mishkin) for Philip Richardson in 1925


Art of the matter

Grand reverence

Gerard Charles

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Earlier this year, Dance Gazette reported on the dance sector’s growing recognition that safeguarding was a central concern, in dance training and the profession alike. Six months on, Penny Cotton (Membership Director) and Katharine Hikmet (Safeguarding Manager) discuss how the RAD’s work has developed in this area.

What is the latest on the RAD’s safeguarding work?

Penny Cotton It has been a busy period. The main thing we have done is launch safeguarding requirements for RAD teaching members, to support them with their commitment and to take a step closer to creating a world-class safeguarding culture within dance. These new requirements reflect that goal by setting higher standards for student safety. This is about creating safe spaces where everyone can be reassured that their wellbeing is a priority. These include the need for RAD teachers to have a criminal background check every three years, declare any criminal convictions, and take part in annual safeguarding training. We want to create a baseline standard across all the countries in which we operate.

Katharine Hikmet Our international focus has meant meeting regularly with our national directors and colleagues around the world, to have wider conversations exploring safeguarding principles in their regions and countries. I’ve also held introductory sessions with our members in Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas and more. This is something we’re committed to constantly improving and we can only do that if we do that with our members and teams globally, everyone has to buy into the concept that, above everything else, child safety comes first.

Given international variations, can a single code of conduct or best practice be created which works for all members?

PC We believe it absolutely can be. We’re devoting a lot of time to working with our global community to create a practical, simple and impactful common framework. 

Katharine Hikmet
Penny Cotton

KH While our headquarters is in the UK, we aim to give an international context to our work, so that it remains meaningful and practical for everyone. Ultimately, we all want to safeguard and look after young people and vulnerable adults, so it’s about highlighting common themes. Creating an overarching, global approach, giving us a common foundation with national variations, is a long-term project, but it’s absolutely possible.

Do teachers appreciate why safeguarding is important?

PC Very much so, and they are responding positively to changes. Our collective goal has always been to provide a secure and supportive space for all dancers.

What safeguarding questions do members have?

KH They are very varied, depending very much on individual circumstances. Some teachers run their own dance school and don’t have anybody else to discuss these issues with. It can be as straightforward as a question about whether or not to refer a situation and to whom. We’ll talk it through and offer any expert advice we can. I’m pleased that people realise they can check in with us. We give them confidence that they’re doing the right things.

We’re opening up conversations with our members – demystifying safeguarding, but also empowering them by ensuring they have their own checks in place.

How would you describe the RAD’s safeguarding journey in recent years?

PC We’ve totally transformed how we look at safeguarding. We’ve been working on enhancing our safeguarding measures and practices including policy development, education, external collaboration and communication. Safeguarding is a continuing priority and commitment for us and in recent years I have seen a massive shift in our approach and we won’t stop until we become a world leader in this area.

What does the future hold for the RAD’s safeguarding work?

PC We will continually review and adapt our policies to changing circumstances and best practice while raising awareness, maintaining open lines of communication and providing clear channels for reporting concerns.

The next step is to look at further developing our training to support teachers. We want every member to have access to the best possible content to help them be the best teachers they can be.

KH As Penny says, it is about developing that training package, developing the existing response to safeguarding questions and making it a truly international space. The key for me is to help more people to have a deeper understanding of safeguarding. We’ve already had some very positive responses – I’m really encouraged by where we are, but we’ll never rest on our laurels.

For more information about safeguarding and resources visit:


Big Picture

Dancing Times archive

Dance Gazette

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Susan Coles was an RAD registered teacher and Life Member. She started dancing at the Westbury School of Dancing in Bristol, UK, and had great success at the Bristol Eisteddfod, winning dozens of medals and trophies – including five trophies in 1961 alone. In 1956 she was awarded the Royal Academy of Dance Scholarship, going on to teach at the Avalon School of Dancing (later the Susan Coles School of Dancing) and elsewhere. When she retired her dance school was renamed the Wells Ballet School and is now co-run by her former student, Andrea Taylor.

Susan continued to teach her granddaughter, Annabel Tonkin, who is now enrolled at the RAD Dance School in Battersea. Susan’s daughter Emma Tonkin tells Dance Gazette how the family is honouring Susan’s legacy.

What was Susan like?

She loved teaching – ballet was her life, particularly teaching. She never wanted to go on stage – she was just brilliant with children. 

She grew up in in Bristol, and went to the same ballet school as David Drew, who became a principal of the Royal Ballet, and she won a scholarship at the RAD. She started teaching at 16 at the Avalon School of Dance, which she quickly took over and became principal –eventually renaming it the Susan Coles School of Dance. She also taught at junior and senior schools throughout the south west of England. At one point, she had around 800 pupils – so she was not only a great teacher but a really good businesswoman. She was her own accountant, but would also choreograph and make all the costumes for her shows. She did everything, a one-woman band. 

What kind of teacher was she?

She was an old school teacher, very strict, but she got amazing results. She never had a failure, in over 44 years. And she wouldn’t put her fees up as she might have done. She said, I’d rather have a full class than put my fees up and have some people not be able to afford them. The proceeds of every show she did went to charity.

Was the RAD important to her?

She was tremendously proud of being an RAD teacher. I found a lovely letter inviting her for a scholarship interview, when the RAD was still in Holland Park. Later, she was asked to represent the RAD at the opening of their headquarters in Battersea Square in 1974, and had tea with the Queen, representing the RAD. There’s also a little letter inviting her to have coffee with Dame Margot Fonteyn. Sadly, my mother didn’t get to see the RAD’s new London home, but I find it very moving to watch my daughter’s ballet classes there – especially the older teachers, who are of my mother’s generation.

How did you decide how the bursary would work? 

When she died last year, it felt right to honour her and her love of ballet. She was always so inclusive in her teaching, especially for people who couldn’t afford it, so it came to me that we could help a dance student who needed financial assistance with lessons, exams and uniforms. It felt like a fitting tribute. We knew we couldn’t just make a one-off payment, because if we’re going to give a child an opportunity, we’ve got to keep it going. I’ve asked the RAD to select someone who shows promise and really wants to carry on. When they finish their RAD training, we plan to then select someone else – the bursary is ongoing. My mother would have loved to know that someone would be able to carry on dancing. 

What advice would you give to someone considering setting up a similar scheme?

Think about the longevity of the bursary. It’s a commitment – you can’t dangle a carrot in front of a young dancer and then walk away. It was also important that it linked to my mother’s ethos – I knew that she would want someone in need of financial assistance, because she would go above and beyond for her pupils. We drew on what was most important to her. 

Your mother’s legacy is also in the hearts and minds of all the people she taught. 

That’s one of the lovely things about teaching – it does live on in that way. She told me that one of her pupils became a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and saw a little girl who had something wrong with her hips and could barely walk. So this doctor sent this little girl to my mother, and by the end of one term she was galloping and skipping around the room. It’s so rewarding – I loved hearing that story. 

The Susan Coles Bursary will support a young dancer at the RAD’s Dance School. It will provide lessons, uniform and an exam each year for a promising young dancer who has begun learning ballet but due to financial circumstances may be unable to continue with lessons.

Thinking of supporting a bursary? The Royal Academy of Dance is a registered charity and we are extremely grateful for all of the philanthropic support that enables us to carry out our important work. We are always looking to create more opportunities for young dancers around the world to access dance and to train as teachers. By supporting a bursary you can help ensure that young people can experience the chance to learn with us, no matter what their background is. We are truly grateful for every act of generosity. To find out more about supporting a new bursary please contact Isobel Turner, Head of Major Gifts and +44 (0)20 7326 8996.

Inside RAD


Dance Gazette

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The best advice I ever received
Advice comes in many forms. Some that you immediately respond to and some that impact you throughout your life.

Years ago, during one of the most difficult periods of my life, I felt dance had abandoned me. At that point my maternal grandmother advised me to wear my ghungroos (bells that all Indian classical dancers wear around their ankles) and just ‘be’. Not dance. But go about my daily activities in the house with my ankle bells on.

She said that gradually the resonance of the bells will fill my being… the weight of the bells will ground me… the feet will remember their rhythm… imagination will take flight and dance will re-emerge from within.

How very true she was. I have kept her words close to my heart. Every time dance seems to abandon me, I re-embody my grandmother’s words.

The advice I would pass on
Does the journey itself reward you? Or is it only the goal? For great artistry to blossom it is the process in which we should be completely immersed; with honesty, humility and rigour.

It is only when the journey itself bears fruit, when the journey evokes fragrances, valleys and peaks, that the goal becomes that much more profound and meaningful. Then the dancer in you has actually lived the dance! Don’t wait for the mist to clear, step into the fog – into the forest of dance. If not sight, fragrance will surely guide you.

Aditi Mangaldas in Forbidden. Photo: Von Fox Promotions


A trailer for Aditi Mangaldas’ Forbidden



Susan Coles

Dance Gazette

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You are an author and creator of a screen sensation. But more importantly: your mother is a dance teacher?
Yes, my mum, Trudi Oseman, is a director of a community dance school called the Bluebell School of Dance. It’s been her life’s passion. And she teaches ballet and so obviously, I did ballet from a really young age – I think I must have been two when I started baby ballet. I did it all the way until I was 14. I enjoyed it so much.

How was being taught by your parent?
She’s a very warm and loving person and such a good teacher, so it never felt awkward or weird at all. It was just my life. 

Does the experience of performing help when you are in the spotlight today? 
When you asked me to be on Why Dance Matters, one of the first things I thought about was how much confidence just having done dance has given me throughout my life. When I was at school, I never got that nervous about exams, and I always attribute that to the fact that I had done dance and been put in quite nerve-inducing situations, being on a stage performing in front of loads of people. It has given me so much confidence and made a lot of other things a lot less scary in comparison.

Writing and art – are these solitary activities where you have to find your own way?
I loved drawing, I loved writing stories. But when you’re growing up, finding your way into these artistic passions, they really are a solitary thing. I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing stories for a really long time. Didn’t tell any my friends or my parents, because it just felt like my thing. I didn’t want anyone else’s opinions, I guess.

How do you feel about the push back on teaching LGBTQ+ ideas, especially in the US?
It wasn’t my intention to write anything to make a point or to be used in any arguments. It’s been really interesting to see the swarm of popularity that Heartstopper has gained, despite the rising anger and bigotry surrounding queer books. It’s been really sad to see Heartstopper being challenged and banned in various schools, particularly in America. It’s hard to comprehend why such an innocent love story could possibly be deemed inappropriate. But it is good to know that I’ve put something positive into the world. 

What is the physical act of creation like?
Creating a webcomic is a very physical task. I have to draw every single day – my aim is to draw one page every day and that’s about three or four hours of drawing. I have to be sitting at my desk in a very rigid, upright chair. If I draw more than that or if I’m sitting slightly wrong, I will injure myself. There are so many webcomic artists who develop quite serious injuries, especially backs and shoulders. It’s so easy to injure yourself from drawing too much.

‘Dance has given me an inner confidence’… Alice Oseman

Why does dance matter to you? 
It’s given me a very natural inner confidence when it comes to so many other aspects of my life. I do a lot of public appearances as an author, I do some public speaking. Having done dance, being on stage in front of lots of people, in high pressure situations like exams, has made me feel comfortable expressing myself in front of lots of people. 

The second part of my answer is: creativity. Before you invited me on the podcast, I hadn’t thought about how being creative and dance has been such a big part of my life. Exploring and expressing my emotions, through music, and through movement has been fun, something that I have loved to do. And while dance isn’t my life’s passion, it has been a really lovely and joyful thing to have had in my life.

Artwork: Bex Glendining

Why Dance Matters

Why Dance Matters is the RAD’s podcast – conversations with extraordinary people from the world of dance and beyond hosted by David Jays, editor of Dance Gazette. The latest season of Why Dance Matters also includes choreographer Wayne McGregor, David Hallberg, artistic director of the Australian Ballet, ballerina and physicist Merrill Moore, RAD teacher Mitchell Rayner and Endalyn T Outlaw, who is a coach at The Fonteyn. Plus: Jennifer Wright, choreographer of Barbie! Do listen and subscribe.


Advice Bureau

Aditi Mangaldas

Dance Gazette

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1 Cameroon by Miriam Makeba

Makeba was an African superstar, an activist and revolutionary who relentlessly advocated for change throughout her life. My parents used to play her records when I was a kid. In this song she is singing about my other home country.

2 Got ’til It’s Gone by Janet Jackson

This track is an absolute gem. Janet was one of the first records I bought as a kid with my own money. And of all Jackson’s albums, The Velvet Rope is the best. I am a hiphop head through and through, Got ’til It’s Gone is the perfect RnB track with an old skool beat featured by Q-Tip.

When the music video for this song came out in 1997 it really blew my mind. During the sleek and shiny MTV era it showcased Blackness and Black people in a way that I had never seen before. Different skin tones, natural hair, the colour palette of the video… ah, it’s just raw, powerful and beautiful.

3 Kuusi, Op 75 No 5 by Jean Sibelius

Sibelius is probably Finland’s most famous composer. His body of work is vast ranging from symphonies and concertos to choral music. This short composition for a piano with the title Kuusi (meaning Spruce) somehow sounds like Finland. Melancholic yet beautiful, a lone spruce standing on the shore of a lake. I used this song in the only solo work I have done.

4 Traveling by Quentin Harris, Cordell

I had just turned 21 and was spending my first summer in New York when house music and dancing hit me hard. Going into clubs, seeing people on the dance floor expressing themselves in a way I had never seen before, I was blown away. It changed me and my relationship with dance. One night at an iconic club called Shelter, the DJ played this track by Quentin Harris and now whenever I hear it, I am transported back to that moment.

5 The Blacker The Berry by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is one of the most important rappers of our times, a lyricist and a genius wordsmith who has managed to unite the true soul of hiphop with new sounds and influences. Political, raw and the track is still a banger. This whole album that came out in 2015 is pure genius. Hiphop turned 50 years this year so with this song also shoutouts to the culture I love and that has changed the world.


A teaser for One Drop

One Drop is in Dance Umbrella at Battersea Arts Centre, London on 19-20 October and in
the Take Me Somewhere Festival, Glasgow on 28 October.

Why Dance Matters

Alice Oseman

Dance Gazette

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