words Alexa Wang
As one of the world’s most celebrated centres for classical ballet training, The Royal Ballet School selects students through a carefully managed audition process that looks solely at a young dancer’s talent and potential.
The School believes that no student with a love for classical ballet should feel discouraged from applying and offers every applicant a preliminary audition. This audition gives applicants the chance to demonstrate their talent in front of Royal Ballet School staff and find themselves one step closer to a coveted place on the School’s full-time training course or Associate programmes.
Here, we’ll look at The Royal Ballet School’s UK and international auditions process and explain how candidates can apply.
Auditions in the UK and FAQs
The Royal Ballet School’s UK auditions process begins when a young person applies to the School’s full-time training course or Associate programmes. All applicants to these programmes get the chance to audition at centres across the UK in Bath, Birmingham, Dundee, Eastleigh, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Totnes, and London.
The Royal Ballet School offers young dancers a taste of the auditions process through non-selective Audition Insight days. These relaxed and informal classes provide insight into what participating in a Royal Ballet School audition is like, how it works, and what the School looks for in potential students.
For those who would like to learn more, these are some of the most frequently asked questions about the School’s auditions process and their answers.
What Does the In-Person Audition Involve?
Auditions take the form of a regular ballet class, tailored to the age group taking part and beginning with a gentle warm-up. The classes last between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes.
On the day, a Royal Ballet School staff member meets students when they arrive at their audition, helping with registration and presenting them with a pair of audition numbers. Auditionees then have time to get ready and check their hair and clothing before waiting in a communal area, usually a studio, with their parent or guardian.
When the time comes for the audition to begin, the audition class teacher takes all students from the waiting area, leaving behind bags and clothes, to the audition studio. The teacher will then explain the general format of the class and what to expect.
Do I Need to Prepare Anything for the Audition?
No, you do not need to prepare anything specifically for the audition. Dancers can expect to take part in a class like those they already attend and will not need to perform a solo or bring a prepared dance piece.
What Is The Royal Ballet School Looking for at the Audition?
The Royal Ballet School is looking for students who show musicality and potential and who aspire to pursue a career in classical ballet.
What If I Haven’t Learnt One of the Steps in My Class?
Not knowing certain steps or terminology will not count against a student. Teachers appreciate dancers who ask about steps they are unfamiliar with and who attempt to learn something new.
Will There Be Pointework in My Audition?
For those aged 14 and over, auditions will include some basic pointework. However, as classes at some venues may include a mix of age groups, dancers not yet working on pointe will be able to do the same exercises on demi-pointe.
No dancer should attempt any pointework exercises unprepared or buy pointe shoes for an audition if not yet proficient. A student’s regular dance teacher will guide them through this stage of training when they judge that the student is ready and experienced to safely learn pointework.
At the final audition for White Lodge (Years 9 to 11) and for Upper School, a short part of the audition class will be on pointe.
What Should I Bring to My Audition?
Dancers should attend the audition “underchanged,” with ballet clothes under their normal clothes. The School suggests students wear their regular dance school ballet kit. There is no need to buy new or special kit for the audition.
Candidates should bring their regular ballet shoes and a bottle of water, which they may be able to take into the audition with them. Teachers may ask students to remove their shoes during class for some exercises, so flat ballet shoes with elastics rather than ribbons are a must. Applicants will find more specific dancewear guidelines for their age group, such as advice on the right type of tights to wear, on their audition invitation.
Who Will Be on the Audition Panel?
Typically, the preliminary audition panel consists of two or three people, includingat least one Artistic staff member. The final audition panel will consist of the Artistic Director and Artistic staff members.
Will I Have to Do an Interview at the Audition?
The School doesn’t interview at the preliminary audition. However, shortlisted candidates can expect an interview at their final audition. At that time, the School will contact students letting them know exactly what to expect.
Can I Audition at One of the School’s Intensive Courses?
The Royal Ballet School does not hold auditions for the full-time training programme during its London Spring and Summer Intensive Courses in the UK.
However, the School does deliver preliminary auditions during the Intensive Courses in both Japan and Korea. Dancers must book their audition separately from applying to the Japan and Korea Winter Intensives. The School will then invite students to the final auditions, held in London, during the spring term.
Can I Audition Again If I’ve Been Unsuccessful in the Past?
Yes, the School welcomes applications from those who have auditioned before, acknowledging that young dancers develop and progress at different times.
The Royal Ballet School recruits students from overseas as well as the UK, seeking to provide gifted young dancers from around the world with the chance to access its prestigious training. For those not based in the UK who wish to audition, every year, the School holds preliminary in-person international auditions. During all preliminary auditions, whether in the UK or abroad, Royal Ballet School teachers and Artistic staff conduct the same class format.
The international auditions currently take place in:
- Lisbon in Portugal
- Livorno and Rome in Italy
- Brno in Czech Republic
- Barcelona, Spain
- Tokyo in Japan
- Seoul in Korea
- Across the USA.
In 2022, The Royal Ballet School is also holding auditions in Australia and Brazil and hopes to offer auditions in even more countries soon.
Additionally, applicants can apply online and opt to submit a video application for their preliminary audition. The School will then ask successful video and in-person applicants at the preliminary stage to attend a final audition in London.
Applying for UK and International Auditions
Young dancers can apply for the School’s full-time and Mid, Senior, or Advanced Associate programmes in the same application, and these open annually in September and close in October. Auditions take place from November to January, and all auditions are for courses beginning the following September.
In 2022, both UK and international auditions opened on Monday, Sept. 5 and will close on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Final auditions for all applicants will take place in February and March 2023.
Applications for the School’s Junior Associate programme open each year in February and close in March. Auditions for courses starting in September run during the summer term.
If you are unsure what the requirements are for young dancers involved in Royal Ballet School training, the School offers detailed information about dancer training eligibility for the different age groups for full-time training, Associate programmes, and intensive courses.
All applications received by the closing dates can expect to receive an invitation to an audition class. The School endeavours to send out preliminary results for full-time training auditions within one month after the date of audition, while Associate results go out at the end of the audition process in March or April.
About The Royal Ballet School
The Royal Ballet School provides a world-class ballet education for talented young dancers. The School’s mission is to nurture, train, and educate exceptional performers for careers with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and other preeminent international dance companies, all while inspiring the future of classical ballet training.
Since its founding in 1926, the School has continually contributed to the rich dance heritage of the traditional art form and produced generations of world-renowned dancers and choreographers, from greats such as Margot Fonteyn, Antoinette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, Anya Linden, Darcey Bussell, Kenneth MacMillan, and David Bintley, to a new generation marking its mark on the world stage including Matthew Ball, Lauren Cuthbertson, Samara Downs, Francesca Hayward, Brandon Lawrence, Steven McRae, Marcelino Sambé, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Admission to The Royal Ballet School relies entirely on a student’s existing talent and potential for dance, musicality, and artistry, regardless of their academic ability or personal circumstances. Approximately 88% of students currently depend on financial support to attend the School. The eight-year dance course runs alongside a comprehensive academic, pastoral, and healthcare programme, ensuring students are fully prepared to flourish in future careers within and beyond the ballet world.
Additionally, the extensive Training and Access Programme is always working to broaden access to the School’s unique expertise, experience, and resources, with dedicated programmes for primary school pupils, dance teachers, and the general public.