The Russian method of Ballet education has been devised and refined over centuries. The goal of this system is to produce artistically expressive, technically able, powerful dancers through a well balanced and highly logical method. The strong technique of this system creates what is often termed "the Russian style", which is immediately recognisable. It is, however, more than a style, it is the solid foundation of pure classical ballet.
This system equips the dancer with a profound technical base whilst building great control which reduces the risk of injury, resulting in a long and healthy dance career. It enables the teacher to nurture each student individually, thus helping them to reach their full potential whilst at the same time encouraging them to create and develop their own artistic interpretations within the classical roles. This system demands a highly educated attitude and a respect for tradition from both student and teacher.
Since the arrival of the great Russian artists from the Imperial Theatre at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Russian ballet has been recognised in the West as a unique artistic phenomenon. Classical ballet, as we know it today, was largely created in the Russian Imperial Theatre. The style and character of classical ballet were formed during this Imperial period. It is this style and character that retain and manifest the significance and beauty of classical ballet for the audience today. In the development of classical ballet in Imperial Russia a system evolved, over two hundred and fifty years, to meet the technical requirements and fulfil the stylistic demands of Russian choreographers. Generations of great Russian ballet theatre artists worked within that system to preserve and pass down this heritage while allowing it to evolve. It has produced arguably the greatest ballet schools and method of ballet education. Many of the famous names in the world of ballet are the products of it.
Formidable dancers, ballet masters and great artists have come out of the Russian schools. The names that come to mind are iconic and known across the western world, they include Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Maya Plissetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Markarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov to name but a few. These names span the twentieth century.
After the revolution, many great Russian artists fled to the West, to teach and dance, but the majority remained in Russia where they not only kept the great classical heritage alive but developed it within the Soviet Union. Classical ballet grew more profoundly than people could have imagined possible. The first visits of the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets to London in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties were greeted with astonishment. Not only was there wonder at the technical and artistic prowess but amazement at aspects of the Soviet repertoire.
The hallmark of ballet in Soviet Russia was its inclusivity. Very ordinary people had access not only to the schools but also to the theatre where they experienced the greatest happiness watching performances. It was an escape to a different world of great beauty and technical marvel. Soviet choreographers sought to convey different subjects, new balletic dance often generously enriched with elements of folklore of which there was an inexhaustible supply. At that time Character Dance became an important means of creating a separate artistic image with colours, characters and dances that embodied an entire ballet. During this period Character Dance formally became a separate discipline. National dances were preserved and stylised and character barre was taught in schools.
The Soviet period saw the development of the heroic ballets. These had a profound impact on technique but specifically with regard to male classical ballet technique. Huge leaps, spins and athleticism were required not just by Principals but by a strong male corps de ballet. Great pas de deux were choreographed as a means of powerful expression which required extraordinary pyrotechnics of partnering skill. The increased demands placed on the dancers together with the close ties between theatre and schools created a great system bound within its respect for its own heritage. The interchange between schools and theatre artists was a primary feature of this system where the educational process of the schools was fundamentally related to the growing and historic theatre repertoire. This required maximum inspiration and motivation from its dancers as the technique and artistry became more and more refined. Technique was the basis of the artist, who became liberated by it, rather than a mere dull exponent of it. This is the priceless heritage which LRBS seeks to emulate in a small, simple and thoroughly professional manner.
Many students, trained in the Russian Ballet system, have enjoyed success as ballet dancers on the stages of leading theatres worldwide. They have continued their career by being in demand to teach all over the world where they pass on the knowledge and heritage of their own training.
London Russian Ballet School was founded by Evgeny Goremykin, former principal of the Bolshoi Theatre. It is the only school in Great Britain to teach and use the Russian system of training exclusively in every aspect of its work. LRBS believes it is perfectly possible to produce great dancers in England, to rival the iconic names listed above. It is this fundamental respect for the Russian system that marks out the school in its pursuit of artistic and technical excellence.
LRBS is planning to offer the same eight year ballet education programme as that of the great Russian ballet schools. At the moment LRBS trains students in vocational programmes from ten years of age. These courses become full time from the age of sixteen and include academic A-level studies.
In line with the Russian system, Character Dance is taught by specialist teachers from the Russian stage and the scenic character dance of the Russian theatre repertory. These classes are compulsory for vocational students. Character dance is vital for a thorough understanding of many classical ballet roles. A ballet, such as Raymonda, needs this foundation to enable a ballerina to fill her role with nuance and understanding, to make sense of every gesture.
The school also works devotedly with adult amateurs and young children of all ages alongside its teaching of more professional students. These students are warmly welcomed and encouraged to attend as regularly as possible. They are invited to watch rehearsals, classes and coaching as these enrich their own personal enjoyment and sense of fulfilment.
LRBS and its charity Kids Love Lambeth carry out outreach work in the local community of Lambeth as part of the belief that ballet is for all. Several young vocational students are here in LRBS as a result of this outreach work. The charity teaches ballet clubs, performs in local schools and offers free seats at theatre performances for young Lambeth children.