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Building the future for careers in ballet

‘Build the Future’ was the theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (7th – 13th February), and we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the success we have had over the past few years to build the future for our company and the dancers we work with.

New English Ballet Theatre (NEBT) was founded to address a perceived lack of career opportunities for emerging ballet dancers and choreographers, inspired by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, who envisioned ballet companies as collaborative projects of different artistic disciplines.

Over the past 12 years NEBT has furthered the careers of over 100 dancers, many of whom have earned full-time positions with companies such as The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, Rambert, Scottish Ballet, Joffrey Ballet Chicago, Norwegian National Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Estonia National Ballet and Vienna Festival Ballet, among others.

“I believe that NEBT has pushed me to become more versatile and also to really look at my technique and how it has developed recently. It has made me work very hard on myself as a dancer and an artist!” (Dancer, NEBT 2021 company)

What we are able to give dancers is the kind of professional experience they need for a chance to be accepted into a major professional company, but that is hard to find when coming fresh out of training: working with different choreographers on a demanding rehearsal schedule towards a series of professional performances and outreach events; sometimes touring nationally or internationally.

We have now reached an important point in the development of NEBT, and in what we can do for dancers’ career progression. We have grown from merely being a pathway into the dance industry to sustained career development for talented dancers through a dedicated apprenticeship programme that was launched in 2021.

During that season, which included a period of researching and developing new work as well as filming four short dance films, we were able to offer apprentice contracts to seven recent graduates from English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet. Apart from being full members of the cast, they also benefitted from our professional development lecture/workshop programme, covering subjects such as Managing Uncertainty, Marketing and Filming & Photographing Dance, delivered by experienced professionals.

NEBT has definitely furthered my career by making me a more versatile dancer with the ability to work with many choreographers in different dance styles.” (Dancer, NEBT 2021 company)

We are delighted that we are able to offer all seven dancers full contracts for our 2022 season based on their fantastic work last year, and we are envisaging to develop this practice as a model for the future and an opportunity for us to offer dancers longer contracts over two years rather than just one season.

It was very important for me because it was the first experience with a company and I learned a lot.” (Dancer, NEBT 2021 company)