Dame Darcey Bussell, DBE sets the stage for new global headquarters for Royal Academy of Dance

Luke Rittner, Dame Darcey Bussell, Omer Weinberger, Wandsworth Councillor Ravi Govindia with young dancers from the Royal Academy of Dance. Photo: Adrian Brooks courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance.

The Royal Academy of Dance’s (RAD) new state of the art global headquarters at Avanton: Battersea started to take shape this morning at an event to celebrate the building’s topping out. Royal Academy of Dance students presented an exclusive dance piece, choreographed by RAD’s Artistic Director, Gerard Charles for special guest and RAD President, Dame Darcey Bussell, to mark a significant construction milestone at Avanton: Battersea. The new building will be completed in 2020 and will be a key moment in the year marking the Academy’s centenary.

Dame Darcey Bussell was joined on site by Luke Rittner, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Dance, Avanton’s Managing Partner, Omer Weinberger and Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, along with students of the Academy to mark the occasion.

In a special dance display at the topping out ceremony at Avanton: Battersea, a group of six RAD dance students unveiled a 10-metre long ribbon, cut by Academy President Dame Darcey Bussell to mark the first stage of this new development.

The ceremony marks an exciting new chapter in the Royal Academy of Dance’s future as a world-class leader in dance education and training. The new 60,000 sq.ft building provides almost double the footprint for the Academy, and will enable the Royal Academy of Dance to meet increasing demand for dance classes and workshops for people of all ages and abilities. Working closely with Wandsworth Council, the Royal Academy of Dance will be delivering a cultural engagement strategy for the local community. The fully accessible new headquarters will include:

  • Eight full-size dance studios with sprung floors and high specification sound equipment
  • A performance theatre (178 capacity) with full lighting rig and sound desk
  • A library and archive that will house and display many of its original costume and dance artefacts
  • A new retail space and large café for members, visitors and tourists

Designed by Patel Taylor, the development establishes a new and significant landmark for this part of Battersea, which will also provide 299 apartments and communal landscaped gardens. The development is just moments from the riverside and only eight minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction. A bold design approach comprises three buildings on a single podium, the architectural form of which has been inspired by the movement of dance. The interior architecture of the Academy headquarters have been designed by Takero Shimazaki Architects.

Dame Darcey Bussell, President of the Royal Academy of Dance commented:

“Today marks an exciting new chapter for the Academy as we approach our centenary in 2020. This building symbolises a new ‘home’ of dance, that will benefit our worldwide members, staff and partners, and will also enable us to strengthen our links to the local community. As President I am proud of the work the RAD does to promote a love of dance in everyone, regardless of ability or background, and to nurture future generations of talented teachers and dancers.”