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by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

The Royal Ballet School, London

Photographer: Johan Persson

It seems like absolutely no time ago that I was told my piece would be going to Canada and now in less than 2 weeks I’ll be on a plane to Toronto!

This will be the first time I’ve ever been to Canada and I’m really excited to see the school and meet so many international students!

I think I’m most looking forward to meeting the new cast that will be dancing my piece, and find out what they can offer to the material to make it their own. It might be difficult to get some of the pas de deux working, as these two dancers will never have met, but the challenge of this seems very exciting! I’m also really looking forward to taking class with the international dancers, and getting a chance to see how everyone works in class.

I feel like there’s so much to be learned from this experience and I just hope that the plane journey doesn’t tire me out too much!

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by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

Royal Ballet School, LondonThe summer time for me means a lot of hard work rehearsing for our end of year performances. We’re lucky enough to have a run of five performances in the basement theatre of the Royal Opera House and one on the Main Stage, which is probably the highlight of the year.

Last year the performance consisted of Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, a new work titled Les Jeunes Hommes choreographed entirely for boys by Stanton Welch, a Lower School piece titled Reawakening choreographed by teacher Antonio Castilla, Ashley Page’s Larina Waltz and last but not least The Grand Defile.

The day after this performance we break up for our summer holidays, which normally last for eight weeks, however this year hopefully I will have a contract and may therefore get less time off, which is actually better as I can some times find it quite difficult to stay in shape. Over the summer holidays I try to get some sort of part time job to help fund a small holiday for myself or to go towards living in London. Last year I worked in a restaurant next to the sea with my two older sisters which was great because I don’t get to see them very often.

I love having my summer break because it gives me a chance to see all my family and really spend some quality time with them, however the one downside is being away from ballet for such a long time. As I live in a fairly small town there are no ballet or dance companies, so I have to find different ways to stay in shape, such as swimming, cycling, running and using the gym, which is great for my cardio vascular strength… but you just can’t beat that end of class feeling!

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by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

Rehearsals at The Royal Ballet School, LondonWorking with a Choreographer

I enjoy working with new choreographers and being part of the experimental stage of creating a piece. I find it extremely interesting to see how different choreographers work with music and also their dancers as this can change dramatically from one to the other. I love being challenged by new material that isn’t necessarily what we practice in class however the process of retaining it in my muscle memory does take slightly longer.

When I’m working with a fellow student choreographer I find I can become closer to the choreography, perhaps because I have a closer relationship with them I am able to talk to them about the choreography, and really understand what they’re looking for.

Working as a Choreographer

I have only ever created one entire piece of choreography and I am extremely fortunate that it was chosen to come to Canada to be performed by an amazing selection of international dancers. I found the process of working with colleagues to be very fun but also extremely rewarding, I found it was a successful partnership, as I knew the dancers so well. I see them in class most days therefore I know what they’re capable of, I know their weaknesses (if any), I know their strengths and I know them as people so I know what they enjoy! I found it invaluable to be able to talk to my dancers in a relaxed atmosphere, and ask them how the movement felt for them or if I could perhaps change it so it was more comfortable. I wanted to make them feel totally at home with the movement as this, I thought, would enable them to perform the work at its best.

I was lucky enough to have seen my work being performed on stage, which was an amazing experience, the lighting, costumes and simple fact there was a paying audience really changed the dynamic. The dancers really stepped up to the mark and I felt very proud of them especially because they were my close friends.

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by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

A Day in the Life at The Royal Ballet School, London7.15 – I wake up to eat breakfast and get ready for school.

8.15 – I arrive at school to warm up for class.

I walk to school in the morning as I live only 5 minutes away in a flat with 2 other students.

9.00-10.30 – On Monday and Wednesday we have ballet first and academics second.

11.00-12.30 – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we have ballet first and academics second.

We have a choice of 6 subjects, and there are also options for students who do not have English as their first language.

2.30-1.30 – This is our lunch break, most of us walk across the bridge connecting our school to the Royal Opera House, and eat in their canteen/cafeteria.

1.30-2.45 | 3.00-4.15 | 4.30-5.30 – These three time slots consist of different classes, which include: Contemporary, solos, repertoire, character, pas de deux, body conditioning, pointe work (for girls), upper body (for boys) and coaching.

At the end of the year we come off timetable to rehearse for the approaching performances.

5.30-6.30 – When our choreography competition is near, this is the time we have to work on our pieces.

After this we are free to go home to eat dinner, relax and get ready for the next day.

London is an extremely busy city with lots to do and see such as amazing art galleries, many shops and numerous historical buildings. Covent Garden, where our school is located, is perfect for dancers as four ballet shops and countless theatres surround it. It’s a great privilege to be situated so close to the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet, where we are able to see so many amazing productions and dancers!

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by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, LondonHi,

My name is William. I go to The Royal Ballet School, London and I’ve been dancing for 9 years.

I started dancing because my friend went to ballet classes and I thought it sounded fun.

I live in a flat near the school with two friends, but my home is in Wales.

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