September 21, 2023


Make Some Fun

Elmhurst Ballet College’s a hundredth anniversary

4 min read

Elmhurst Ballet School is among the world’s prime ballet faculties and is about to have fun its 100th anniversary in 2023. 

The college will commemorate the momentous milestone throughout its Elmhurst 100: Extra Futures to Form marketing campaign, with centenary performances, alumni and fundraising occasions within the 2022-23 educational 12 months.

Her Majesty The Queen Consort – previously HRH The Duchess of Cornwall – has been Patron of Elmhurst since 2006 and final visited the Birmingham website in January 2020, marking her fourth go to to the varsity.

Elmhurst enjoys a detailed affiliation with Birmingham Royal Ballet, the UK’s premiere touring ballet firm below the Directorship of Carlos Acosta CBE, and an on-going partnership with the award-winning Studio Wayne McGregor, strengthens the varsity’s up to date dance provide. 

Elmhurst Ballet College began life as The Mortimer College of Dancing in Camberley in Surrey in 1923. Based by Helen Mortimer within the grounds of a neighborhood preparatory college, it had a small in-take of younger dance college students earlier than the varsity expanded and a senior college was added. By 1933, pupil numbers hit 60.

The college survived the Second World Conflict years – college students danced in 59 exhibits for the troops – and in 1945 it was recognised by the Ministry of Schooling. It grew to become Elmhurst Ballet College in 1947, taking its identify from the Elmhurst constructing that housed the varsity. Pupil numbers had now reached 240. 

In the course of the many years to observe, glitterati of the ballet world, many dancers turned dance educationalists, made their mark on the varsity and Elmhurst’s worldwide popularity went from energy to energy. The late Bridget Espinosa, a profitable dancer and Elmhurst alumna was Creative Director from 1966-75, and Alfreda Thorogood, a former Principal dancer with The Royal Ballet was Creative Director of Dance from 1994-2004. In the present day’s Elmhurst additionally advantages from two former dancers on the helm: Jessica Ward, Principal since 2010; and Robert Parker, Creative Director since 2012 following his retirement as a Principal dancer from Birmingham Royal Ballet. 

Stars of stage and display skilled on the college throughout its Camberley years, together with Dame Merle Parke DBE, Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills, Jenny Agutter, Susie Blake, Fiona Fullerton, Sarah Brightman, Helen Baxendale and Hermione Norris. 

Elmhurst’s high-profile relocation to Birmingham in 2004 was overseen by the then Principal John McNamara and supported by the UK Authorities, Birmingham Metropolis Council and Birmingham Royal Ballet. The intention of the relocation was to satisfy the rising demand for skilled dance coaching, schooling and analysis outdoors of London. The invaluable hyperlink with Birmingham Royal Ballet was additionally initiated. 

2022 and Elmhurst has firmly secured its place amongst the highest ballet faculties on the planet, attracting native, nationwide and worldwide dance college students to Birmingham. Lately, college students have reached the finals of the BBC Younger Dancer Competitors and, on commencement, alumni be a part of skilled dance corporations within the UK and abroad, or some safe college locations to reinforce their educational achievements. 

Mick Mortimer, grandson of the varsity’s founder, started working at Elmhurst in 1979. When he retired in 1992 his tenure ended an nearly 70-year household hyperlink with the varsity. On behalf of the Mortimer household, Mick commented: 

My brothers Lawrence, Christopher and I have been born to Elmhurst…however to not dance! In our very early years, we lived on the college and there was dance all over the place…we have been by no means in need of leisure!

In these early years, the late forties into fifties, we couldn’t have realised how influenced we’d be by our extraordinary background. As we grew up it grew to become clear how particular Elmhurst was to us, and never simply as our dwelling. Virtually with out noticing, we have been launched to the lasting fantastic thing about motion, music, grace and drama. Every little thing Elmhurst!

Our grandmother’s imaginative and prescient was at all times finest served by the opportunity of a brand new imaginative and prescient for the varsity. Now Elmhurst is about to have fun its centenary in its fantastic, built-for-ballet premises in Birmingham. How proud our grandmother Helen could be! We want to say congratulations Elmhurst in your achievements and all good needs in your celebrations. Could your success at all times proceed.”

Jessica Ward, the varsity’s ninth and present Principal: 

Elmhurst at 100 is a really particular second within the college’s historical past and we’re thrilled to mark the event with quite a lot of centenary occasions. There might be loads of nostalgia and reminiscences and we can even take into consideration what a future Elmhurst seems to be like. 

Helen Mortimer’s authentic intention for the 1923 college was to arrange college students for the calls for of a profession in dance and drama. 100 years on and we’re extraordinarily proud that her founding precept nonetheless stands. 

Past our centenary, we intention to proceed to be student-centric – our college students are on the coronary heart of every part we do. We wish to proceed to ship dance and educational excellence in a caring atmosphere, and paved the way with dynamic analysis by way of our brand-new Analysis and Efficiency Division. We can even proceed to problem and query sector norms and transfer with the occasions so Elmhurst stays related for an ever-developing dance sector.”

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