The Royal Ballet School has announced that Christopher Powney will take up the post of Artistic Director Designate in April 2014, and formally take over the full running of the school from Gailene Stock at the end of August that year.
I say 'formally' since Stock is seriously ill and has, in fact, been away from her desk for some time. It is considered unlikley that she will return. The School is presently being led by Jay Jolley, who will continue as Acting Director into the 2013/14 academic year.
A former teacher at The Royal Ballet Upper School, Christopher is currently Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy and has danced with Northern Ballet, English National Ballet and Ballet Rambert. During his career he has worked with some of the world’s leading dancers and choreographers, including: Rudolf Nureyev, Christopher Gable, Jiri Kylian, Lynn Seymour, Christopher Bruce, Twyla Tharp, Frederick Franklin, Ohad Naharin and Glen Tetley.
Lady Douro, Chairman of the Board of Governors, said: "Gailene Stock’s work at the School has enabled it to become one of the top classical dance training centres in the world. Christopher is the unanimous choice of the Appointment Panel and they are convinced he will ensure the School’s continued success. He possesses the knowledge and skills we are looking for to take the School forward."
Christopher Powney said: "I am thrilled and honoured to have been selected to direct one of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools and to return to my own country makes it even more special. This is a school full of exceptionally talented and motivated young dancers and it will be my pleasure to help them to realise their dreams. I look forward to working with the dedicated Board and team of The Royal Ballet School to ensure that the School remains at the forefront of dance education."
Standards at the School have undoubtedly risen during Stock's tenure, although many lament the dearth of 'English style' (and I know we can debtae exactly what that means these days) among its ever more international cohort. Dare one wish for a somewhat more 'English' approach, and School performance repertory that even comes close to reflecting the work of the company?