On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100

For most dance students in the UK (and abroad), the Royal Academy of Dance is a familiar name. Every year around 250,000 pupils take RAD exams, from toddlers taking their first forays into the world of ballet, to BA and PGCE students hoping to become qualified dance teachers. The academy is renowned worldwide for its high standards of training, and the huge cultural impact it has had since its foundation in 1920. This year, the V&A museum celebrates the centenary of the RAD with On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100, an exhibition emphasising the influence that the organisation has had over its lifetime. Whilst it may be known by many as primarily an examination board, the RAD has shaped the dance scene both in Britain and the world for 100 years, altering the public perception of dance and changing the lives of thousands.

The Royal Academy of Dance has shaped the dance scene both in Britain and the world for 100 years, altering the public perception of dance and changing the lives of thousands

The exhibition hosts a variety of pieces, including costumes from famous RAD alumni, with Rudolph Nureyev’s 1963 Swan Lake costume and Dame Darcey Bussell’s 2007 farewell performance shoes among the memorabilia. Visitors will also be able to see original costume design sketches, photographs showing highlights of productions over the years and a range of promotional material from the RAD’s archives. The Theatre and Performance Department of the V&A hosts one of the largest collections of dance objects in Europe, and this collaboration between the two cultural institutions is sure to provide an exciting and wide-ranging exhibition of some of the most important moments of British ballet history. Whether you’re interested in cultural artefacts, the artistry of costume design, or want to see recordings of performances over the years, you’re sure to find something to enjoy.

The RAD’s efforts to make it easier for people of all ages, genders and abilities to benefit from dance should be celebrated, and this collaboration with the V&A honours the work that the organisation has done since its inception up to the present day

Dance, particularly ballet, has for many years been seen as an elitist and inaccessible activity, both for the participants and spectators. Much of the RAD’s work in recent years has focused around making dance more accessible for all, running classes and programmes for a range of different groups who may be unlikely to get into dance in their everyday lives. Among these initiatives are Project B, a campaign supporting the next generation of male dancers, Step Into Dance, which offers 6,000 secondary school students per year regular dance classes, and RADiate, providing subsidised dance classes for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. The RAD’s efforts to make it easier for people of all ages, genders, and abilities to benefit from dance should be celebrated, and this collaboration with the V&A honours the work that the organisation has done since its inception up to the present day. Even if you don’t know anything about dance, the RAD or its work, this exhibition is sure to pique your interest and give you an insight into the history of an extremely influential and culturally important institution.

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