The Royal Ballet School welcomes record numbers of people for this year’s Open House Celebration
More than 1500 members of the general public visited both the Lower School at White Lodge, Richmond Park and the Upper School in Covent Garden as part of Open House on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September. This marks the second time The Royal Ballet School has participated in Open House and the first time for White Lodge. Open House is the annual celebration of the Capital’s architecture when members of the general public are invited to visit hundreds of interesting buildings in the London area, completely free of charge.
White Lodge recorded 282 visitors on Saturday and 443 visitors on Sunday whilst the Upper School welcomed 842 people during the course of the day on Sunday with a queue of more than 300 people extending down Floral Street, waiting for the doors to open at 10.30am.
Visitors to the Lower School visited the historic ‘fine rooms’, including the Study and the Salon, the Ballet Office (HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s favourite room), the Nelson Room (where Admiral Lord Nelson reputedly mapped out the Battle of Trafalgar) and the White Lodge Gardens. Visits at the Lower School culminated with a guided tour of White Lodge Museum & Ballet Resource Centre.
Rarely open to the public, The Bridge of Aspiration was the architectural highlight for visitors to the Upper School with younger visitors particularly enjoying the experience of seeing and touching tutus, ballet shoes, headdresses and props in the Costume Department. Visitors were also able to witness Royal Ballet School students working in the studios and there was also a working rehearsal by Royal Ballet School Junior Associate students aged 8-9.
The School’s Chief Operations Officer, Alan Winter observes:
‘Taking part in Open House represented a wonderful experience for the School to share its resources and to engage with such a diversity of members of the general public. Such was the demand that we could have welcomed even more people through the doors throughout the weekend. The many questions put to our staff and volunteers enabled us to create a clearer understanding of how the School really works’
Top Photograph: the morning queue at the Floral Street entrance to the Upper School on Sunday 19 September; bottom photograph: visitors waiting for White Lodge's doors to open on Saturday 18 September