ROH Chance to Dance film

Published: 15 October 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber

The Rite of Spring performed by Chance to Dance Credit: ROH / Sim Canetty-Clarke
Chance to Dance demonstration in Doncaster Credit: ROH / Rachel Cherry
Chance to Dance, Firebird Credit: ROH / Rachel Cherry
Royal Ballet Kristen McNally leading a Chance to Dance workshop Credit: ROH / Andrej Uspenski
Chance to Dance demonstration in Doncaster Credit: ROH / Rachel Cherry

The Royal Opera House will mark 30 years of its learning outreach programme Chance to Dance by broadcasting a special film on 19 October as part of World Ballet Day featuring commentary by Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare and testimonies from associate Chance to Dance artists.

Chance to Dance was established in 1991 in response to the absence of black dancers in the company, initially in partnership with Dance Theater Harlem, with a series of demonstrations and auditions across Hammersmith, Fulham and Lambeth to give primary schoolchildren from across the country an opportunity to engage creatively with dance and work with The Royal Ballet.

The programme has reached more than 30,000 children to date. In September alone, more than 700 students aged 7–8 watched a live-streamed demonstration in the West Midlands and in-person demonstrations at local theatres in Essex and Doncaster, including excerpts from ballets such as Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Peter Wright’s Giselle, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée and Mikaela Polley’s Quaternion performed by Royal Ballet Artist Aiden O’Brien and Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Denilson Almeida, James Large and Marianna Tsembenhoi.

The Royal Opera House will broadcast a short film celebrating Chance for Dance’s impact during The Royal Ballet’s five-hour live-stream on #WorldBalletDay, hearing from, among others, Royal Ballet First Artist Hannah Grennell and former English National Ballet dancer Shevelle Dynott.

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said, "we are enormously proud of Chance to Dance and the profound impact it has had over the course of its 30-year history. The scheme has not only encouraged thousands of children to discover, and take part in, ballet, but has also created a truly diverse and talented roster of professional dancers for companies up and down the country. I am delighted to have seen the scheme go from strength-to-strength as we re-double our efforts to ensure that ballet is an art form accessible to, and representative of, all parts of the population."