Why has the RAD refreshed its brand now?

Susi Pink, RAD Associate Director, Marketing & Communications We felt the brand needed a refresh in line with the new five-year strategy for the RAD that Tim Arthur, the CEO, has created. We want to build on the legacy of the past, but look to the future – to become transformative and innovative, positioning ourselves in the dance sector as an organisation to support what we and our teachers do, and what everybody who dances with the RAD enjoys. It’s not a complete rebrand, more of a refresh. 

The market place for dance and teaching dance is changing. Dance and dance teachers have to compete with multiple other activities for children, so it’s important to have a good brand that appeals not just to us and our teachers, but to parents and students. We need to create a brand that supports our teachers in building successful dance schools and businesses.

What ideas and emotions do you hope the brand will convey?

Pink We worked with the design agency Ninepoint. We wanted to build on what we have, but bring in more joy and exuberance, a bit more about dance and how it makes you feel. It’s not just a logo, it’s about our values.  

Rachal Watson, Ninepoint We wanted to create an honest interpretation of where the RAD is now, and where they want to be in future. The job was made a lot easier for us because they were so clear on their strategy. We had a lightbulb moment when all the department leads were gathered together in one room to share their story and perspective. They talked about inclusivity, togetherness, joy – that was very much our starting point. 

The iterations that we then presented went from evolution through to revolution. I was blown away by how bold Tim wanted to be. I loved talking to the team, and seeing their excitement, their sense of pride and ownership. We hope the new brand feels like an honest and true reflection of who the RAD is.

Alongside the RAD red, extra colours add pop and sizzle
Developing the new ‘R’ symbol

How do you balance heritage and forward thinking?

Watson We want to retain the recognisable elements, but also branch into a new world. We needed to find the balance. We took inspiration from the RAD’s coat of arms – it is very delicately crafted, but with a modernity in the brushstrokes. We’re taking the old and pushing it into the new. With the elements that we’ve created, you can be formal or lean into something exuberant or joyful. 

Pink We love our coat of arms, it’s an important part of our brand that we don’t want to lose. Although ballet is an important part of our heritage and history, we also want to expand into other dance genres. This feels like a natural evolution.

What was the thinking behind the new logo, font and colours?

Pink The simplified primary logo is now on two lines rather than three, so it’s more flexible as a design element. It can also work on one line, for example on merchandise. It’s very classic and elegant, but with a modern, fresh feel. Our RAD red is a massive part of who we are, but we’ve brought in some additional colours – fresh pinks, oranges, yellows, and magenta – to give an extra pop and sizzle. 

Watson The font actually harks back to the 1920s and 30s. The flourish marks allow a more expressive formation – as if they’re conveying the dance process.

How did you arrive at the RAD’s new ‘R’ symbol?

Watson The RAD wanted a visual shorthand to sum up what dance means to us all. We wanted to find a mark that summed up the joyful act of movement and which was genderless, raceless, ageless. It can be used for dramatic effect or as a visual sign off. There were many iterations, with great big, messy mood boards! We called it the arabesque dancer, but need to find a better term for this instantly recognisable little mark.

Pink We looked at movement shapes, both classical and contemporary. The ‘R’ can work in a lyrical dance context, and also with something more commercial like street dance. It’s very flexible, embracing our heritage and giving us a step into the future.

Sum up the new brand in three words?

Pink Joyful, dynamic, established.


When we began the RAD podcast in 2021, with the UK still in lockdown, we had no idea if it would work. Could we make a podcast? Would anyone appear on it? Would anyone listen? 

We lucked out with our producer, Sarah Myles: creative, patient and very encouraging (and very fond of pets, an invaluable icebreaker for several guests). Sarah made the unknown seem less scary. When we sought a title, she asked, ‘what’s the podcast about?’ I guess it’s about why dance matters, I replied. ‘Well that’s your title,’ she said. 

Our first season launched with Xander Parish, and his astonishing journey from neglect in the corps de ballet to renowned principal dancer. Subsequent landmark dancers have included Darcey Bussell, Carlos Acosta, Tiler Peck and David Hallberg. We’ve also met star choreographers, RAD teachers and students, and people from other fields whose lives have been indelibly shaped by dance. All people to whom dance matters on a fundamental level.

Working on Why Dance Matters has been so fulfilling; the generous-spirited guests and immensely collaborative team help.

But more than that, it’s been the opportunity to tap into people’s passions, hear their stories, share their joys and fears. We have been welcomed into intimate conversations which use dance as a prism for the things that matter to us all – expression, confidence, community.

Since the launch, we’ve had over 28,000 downloads from listeners in over 100 countries, been ranked the UK’s top dance podcast, and received heart-warming appreciation from very kind listeners (plus the person who pointed out that my laugh was unbearable. Sorry!).

Marking our 50th episode is a conversation with Olga Smirnova. One of the world’s great ballerinas – her recent Giselle was broadcast to international cinemas in January – she made headlines in 2022 with a courageous, life-changing decision to leave Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, where she had spent her career, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova in Raymonda at Dutch National Ballet. Photo: Altin Kaftira

Two years on, Smirnova has found a new home at Dutch National Ballet. Here are highlights of a wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation:

Dancing in the smartphone age Now that smartphone cameras are everywhere, each one of your performances is recorded and posted on social networks. You are conscious that you will be seen by millions of internet users, and this recording will live forever. This is a new era of being a ballerina.

Starting ballet I do not come from a ballet family, and my family was not wealthy enough to take their kids to a ballet performance. I didn’t dream of becoming a ballerina – gradually, I learned the endless beauty and harmony of ballet.

Stage fright I’ve never felt fear of the stage. Never. Later, when you are a ballerina and people expect to see some quality from you, of course there is some pressure. But once I do the first step, I become very calm. I’m just enjoying being on stage and being my character, and I’m not nervous anymore.

Leaving Russia The decision was obvious for me, so this made it easier. But of course it meant huge changes. I never lived in a foreign country before. A new language, new country, new traditions, new company – all of that was a big challenge. But I was lucky to find great support – I can confidently say that Dutch National has become my home. 

Contact with former Bolshoi colleagues Not many, just with a few people. I think they feel weird not to be able to tour or share their experience with the world, or have choreographers coming to work with them. But people don’t want to talk about it, or might be afraid to share their honest opinion.

Why does dance matter? I like to think about my body as a tool, which helps to reveal and express different emotions and share these emotions with the audience. I believe that the more people share their emotions with one another, the better they understand one another, which helps create a better and more harmonious world. Art helps us find the inspiration to exist – I just want to share this inspiration with the world.

Five favourite guests from Why Dance Matters

Xander Parish Our launch episode featured the former Genée medallist, then a principal at the Mariinsky Ballet. Xander’s resilience is inspiring – like Olga Smirnova, he has now left Russia, and is now with Norwegian Ballet.

Guddi Singh The very first episode we recorded: Guddi, a doctor and broadcaster who described how dance had impacted her work and her own mental health, showed us how we might open a window on life beyond dance

Benjamin Zephaniah The beloved poet and performer died last year. I’m pleased we could tell him how much his work impacted on generations of readers and listeners.

Alice Oseman It was lovely to hear the creator of Heartstopper share how much they owed to their dance teacher mum and early classes.

Jennifer White Speaking to the choreographer of Barbie (whose dancing life began with RAD classes) after the movie opened was a buzz – especially hearing how Ryan Gosling requested ever more silly moves.



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: development@rad.org.uk / +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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Members joined both in-person and online for a vibrant day of practical sessions and inspiring conversations with people from the RAD and our partner organisations. 

Highlights included Alexander Campbell (Royal Ballet and RAD alumnus) leading a mixed repertoire masterclass; Céline Gittens (Birmingham Royal Ballet and RAD alumnus) launching a new scholarship for RAD members; panel discussions on safeguarding and careers in dance; and workshops on pre-school children and working with students with special educational needs.

Art of the matter

Effective teaching

Dance Gazette

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Dame Beryl Grey, RAD Vice President and former ballerina, died on 10 December at the age of 95.

Beryl Grey joined Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet) in 1941 aged just 14. In 1957 she made history as the first British ballerina to guest with the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets, and in 1964 danced with the Peking Ballet. Later artistic director of London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), her numerous honours included the RAD’s Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award in 1995.

For several years, Dame Beryl was also the Dance Gazette agony aunt, alongside David McAllister in a popular column called David and the Dame. She drew on her own matchless experience for advice that was notable for its compassion but also no-nonsense candour. Here are some highlights.

Beryl Grey in 1956. Photo: GBL Wilson/RAD/ArenaPAL

My bored and badly-behaved pupils ruin the class for everyone.

If these children don’t want to learn and aren’t interested, then I don’t think they should continue. They shouldn’t be in a ballet class. It’s sacrilege. It should be like going into church – there should be respect, awe and discipline. When I was a little girl no one even considered disrupting a class. I think it’s been cheapened too much.

The teacher leading my school is strict and old-fashioned. Should she update her methods?

The young should be prepared to learn from older people. Youth is impatient, but I wouldn’t presume to tell an older person how to teach. As for her being strict – well, that’s no bad thing! Ballet is such a hard discipline, and it also requires tremendous self-discipline. Fashions may change, but fundamentally, teaching is a gift.

Beryl Grey with her husband Sven Svenson in 1966. Photo: GBL Wilson/RAD/ArenaPAL

My daughter wants to take ballet classes – but will the work and criticism upset her?

When I was a child, I worked extremely hard – I went to very few parties! I didn’t have a fun life, but I wanted to do it more than anything. Quite frankly, a child has to learn how to take criticism. I’m from the old school, where you learned you have to take the rough with the smooth. 

I have started a relationship with a dancer in my company. Do love and work mix?

Loving relationships are very important to dancers. You bare your soul on stage, so you must have someone behind you. Dancers are highly emotionally charged – for them, it is all or nothing at all. Personally, I always kept my friendships outside the company – which was partly curiosity about the world outside, and about other art forms. 

My pupil longs for a professional career, but I am sure she will never be good enough. 

You cannot possibly tell at 14 whether someone is going to make it. I was only 14 when I joined the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, but my partner, David Paltenghi, didn’t start dancing at all until he was 19. Your doubts may act as a wonderful incentive – the girl may work even harder because it’s a challenge.

My promising student is held back by her father, who says ballet is a waste of time.

Families can be funny, and very unreasonable. This father must be handled very carefully – take a softly, softly approach. If you make him angry, he might even take it out on the girl. Men do still think of dance as an insecure profession – I suspect that at the back of their minds they imagine a dancer will only get on if she sleeps with someone.

‘Respect, awe and discipline’: Beryl Grey in 1964. Photo: GBL Wilson/RAD/ArenaPAL
Beryl Grey with Gerald Ohn in 1964. Photo: GBL Wilson/RAD/ArenaPAL

I teach my daughter – but now she wants another teacher. 

It is always difficult to let go of a talented pupil – especially if she is your own daughter – but it is vital. She wants to explore and learn; she is growing up and becoming her own person. Nurturing can become smothering: I’m keen that there is a break, and not too late. 

My students complain I’m picking on them when I correct them!

Dancers have to learn to take corrections. It can be very upsetting, but you can never see yourself as others do and without corrections you can slip into bad habits very easily. The teacher has to be completely honest. Being an artist isn’t a comfortable career – and it’s quite a lonely one, although wonderfully fulfilling. On stage, you’re all alone – you are baring your soul – so gather up all the advice and correction you can.

My teachers say I am talented – can I have a ballet career and a life?

If you have any doubts, you must give up a career in dance. To be a principal dancer is a wonderful privilege. I became a principal when I was 14, but I never thought that one gave up anything. If you want to get to the top, you don’t do everything that other people do. If you’re going to become, in a way, unique, there is a price to pay. Partying is a very empty life – it doesn’t lead anywhere at all, but everything you put into your training you get back a thousandfold.


Beryl Grey dancing Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theatre


Art of the matter

In Fonteyn’s footsteps

Dance Gazette

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Toshima is a ward of the Tokyo Metropolitan area, to the north of the city. It faced the challenges of a negative reputation and a declining population, and had become known as the ‘ward at risk of disappearing.’ The International City of Arts and Culture Vision was created to improve the image of Toshima, using arts and culture to help spread the word about the area’s appeal.

The programme includes a collaboration with RAD Japan on a project by photographer Yoshitaka Ueno called RAD Meets Toshima!. Several photos are based around Hareza Ikebukuro, the cultural venue which is the driving force of the International City of Arts and Culture. Ikebukuro is creating new opportunities for artists from all over the world and becoming a hub for arts and culture, including musicals, kabuki, opera, Japanese traditional performing arts, and dance.

Why Dance Matters

Kathryn Morgan

Dance Gazette

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The award-winning artist Zi Ling has been announced as the winner of the RAD’s portrait competition, launched to celebrate its brand-new global headquarters.

Artists from across the UK were asked to submit a portrait proposal of pioneering ballet dancer and founding RAD President Dame Adeline Genée, hoping to win a chance to create a painting for the RAD’s new home. The competition was created to honour the legacy of Dame Adeline’s extraordinary contribution to modern British ballet, ensuring that her portrait will be seen and admired by RAD staff, teachers and dancers alike for generations to come.

Zi Ling’s winning design for the portrait.

A judging panel of singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor, royal portraitist Ralph Heimans and Shevelle Dynott, former English National Ballet Dancer, alongside RAD President Dame Darcey Bussell, presented the winning commission to Zi Ling, a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour. The judges were hugely impressed by the over 60 entries, but felt Zi’s bold, expressive, and contemporary interpretation truly captured Genée’s essence.

I am very excited about this wonderful project,’ says Zi Ling. ‘As a painter, I specialise in portraits and figurative works – with my favourite subjects being dancers. The spirit of a dancer lies in their movements and rhythm, and I was inspired to paint Dame Adeline because of her distinctive mark on our history and society. In order to capture her beauty as well as her talent, the final portrait will be created in a water-based and pastel medium as a tribute to Degas and his famous ballet dancer paintings.’

Zi Ling.

Dame Darcey Bussell says, ‘I can’t think of a more fitting way to mark this new chapter in the RAD’s history than with this extraordinarily vibrant portrait. I can’t wait to unveil the new commission from Zi Ling in our brand-new home for dance.’ The proposal was also praised by judges Sophie Ellis-Bextor (for ‘her bold use of colour and depiction of Dame Adeline in a thoroughly modern light’) and Shevelle Dynott (‘I am sure Dame Adeline would have been thrilled’). The portrait artist Ralph Heimans adds, ‘with so many strong contenders, it was Zi’s proposal that really captured a sense of movement and bowled the judging panel away with her strong use of colour.’

Five other artists were highly commended in this competition supported by Freed of London: Caroline Assheton, Thea Beyleveld, Sophie Peters, Abby Hope Skinner and Siobhan Tate.



For years, West Side Story was inextricably linked to Jerome Robbins’ choreography. On both stage and screen, the iconic finger clicks, bent knees and flaring skirts created an unmistakable movement language of simmering violence and romantic frustration.

Recent stage productions have allowed new choreographers to tackle this juicy material – including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker on Broadway and Aletta Collins in Manchester. For Steven Spielberg’s new film, it’s Justin Peck, who as resident choreographer at New York City Ballet has danced in many Robbins’ ballets. ‘I’m standing on the shoulders of giants by taking this on,’ he acknowledges.

His grandfather and father watched the original stage production of West Side Story together, and when years later the young Peck saw the film in San Diego, it hit him, he said ‘like a gut-punch.’ Creating dance for Spielberg’s film he could draw on a cast that included not only Rita Moreno – who played Anita in the original film – but a new generation of vivid dancers. This time, Anita is Broadway star Ariana DeBose, who in 2020 told Dance Gazette about her approach to creating a character. ‘It all starts with movement,’ she said, ‘point blank, end of story. Because body language is everything.’


West Side Story trailer



The overall winner (main picture) is by Jon Raffoul from the UK, and shows Lucie Apicella-Howard with the caption ‘Dance makes me feel on top of the world’. Colourful and bright, it conveys the energy and dynamic qualities of dance. Vera Stephenson, USA, wins the Luke Rittner Special Commendation with a photograph of a young dancer captioned ‘Dance makes me feel like me!’ The public choice award, which attracted 2072 votes, goes to a stunning photo by Stella Smyrnaki from Greece (‘Dance makes me feel strong’) of a pair of young dancers holding a beautiful pose in front of a mountain landscape.

The judges were Melanie Murphy (RAD Director of Marketing and Communications), Gerard Charles (RAD Artistic Director) and the Korean-American photographer and artist Dolly Brown, whose work focuses on dancers, movement and performance. She says, ‘it was wonderful to see the various ways in which the entrants chose to express their feelings about dance through the medium of photography, and to see such a huge variety of entries from all over the world, showing that dance is a universal language.’


Walk tall

Altuğ Akin

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Tamara Karsavina, the leading ballerina of the Ballets Russes, became a great teacher. The syllabus she devised for the RAD’s teacher training course in 1954 is still taught today. This was the second painting of her by Jacques Émile Blanche; he previously painted her in The Firebird, one of her signature roles. Largely self-taught, Blanche attended dress rehearsals of the Ballets Russes to paint its star dancers. 

Luke Rittner, the RAD’s Chief Executive, says: ‘We are delighted to welcome Tamara Karsavina back home to the RAD. The painting will hang prominently in the new headquarters, continuing Karsavina’s lifelong mission to inspire dancers for generations to come.’

Photo: Christies Images Ltd