HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally opened the new state-of-the-art Royal Academy of Dance global headquarters on 10 March. Created as a new international home for dance, the new building in Battersea will enable the RAD to expand on its 100-year commitment to high-quality dance education and to bring the transformational power of dance to more people, regardless of age, ability, or location.
The Duchess, Vice-Patron of the RAD since 2020, was given a tour of the building by the RAD’s outgoing Chief Executive, Luke Rittner, and its President, Dame Darcey Bussell. ‘As the very proud Vice-Patron of the RAD,’ she said after unveiling a commemorative plaque, ‘I would like to congratulate everybody who has made this wonderful new building possible. Having had a very short tour of it, seeing its complete magnificence, it’s just doing so much for so many young people – and old people like me. As a Silver Swan myself, I was inspired by my first visit here to try it out and I have been doing it ever since.’
After meeting RAD students training to become dance teachers, the Duchess continued onto a Silver Swans ballet class for learners aged over 55, delivered by her own teacher and Silver Swans Licensee, Sarah Platt. They were joined remotely by a class in Perth, Australia led by Jamelia Gubgub. The Duchess is herself a ‘swan’, as part of her ongoing commitment to championing active aging. She also met participants from the RADiate programme, which provides subsidised inclusive dance classes designed to develop the physicality and boost the self-esteem of children and young people with additional learning needs.
A dance presentation in the brand-new studio theatre, which moved from ballet to hip-hop, included performances from the Step Into Dance initiative; the Step Hip Hop Company is run in association with ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company and develops technique and choreographic skills in dance styles influenced by hip hop culture.
The Duchess also congratulated the winner of the RAD’s art competition for primary schools in Wandsworth. Young children from across the borough were invited to submit a piece of artwork inspired by how dance makes them feel. The winner, Richard aged 8 from Alderbrook Primary School, presented his work to the Duchess, alongside runners up Indiana and Genevieve.
Before leaving, the Duchess paid tribute to Luke Rittner, ‘who has done such a wonderful job over the years,’ and concluded, ‘I just want to say again how proud I am to be part of it all.’