“I am pleased to confirm that The Royal Ballet School in London has offered a full-time place in Year 7 of our Lower School to Prisca Bertoni, commencing September 2008 through to July 2013 subject to satisfactory annual appraisals.”
I will always remember the moment I heard that I had successfully passed through the stringent audition process and that within a few months White Lodge would become my home. I couldn’t stop spinning around and jumping for joy. However, perhaps I should have paid more attention to those last five words.
As I commence my fifth and final year here I have been reflecting on my life at The Royal Ballet School; it really is an environment like no other and it is easy to understand how it is respected as one of the top ballet schools in the world. Creating a positive and lasting success in life requires the right motivation, the right mindset and the right ‘tools’.
The School supports every aspect of our life with clean bright accommodation and well provided academic facilities. The House Staff are firm but supportive, encouraging us to look after our possessions, ourselves and each other. The Academic Staff are enthusiastic and teach at an elevated rate, enabling us to attain above average grades within the confined timetables necessitated by our extensive ballet training and performance schedules.
We also have medical support with a full-time nurse and a physiotherapist at the School three days each week. Our meals are carefully planned to provide the energy we need and we are taught the importance of a healthy diet and plenty of sleep.
During these first five years of training we are taught to be independent, tenacious, modest and respectful of others. The isolated location of White Lodge in the centre of Richmond Park lends to a focused atmosphere where progress both inside and outside of the ballet studio is encouraged without external distractions. Too often perhaps I have taken these elements of life at The Royal Ballet School for granted.
The quality of our ballet training and the benefits gained from performing both within the School and at the Royal Opera House goes without mention. We are privileged to work with wonderful live piano music in all our classes and the study of music and choreography is actively encouraged within the School.
As I list all these benefits you would think that I would feel confident within myself and in my future progress as a dancer. However, it is perhaps interesting to understand how it feels when you are training at the top and you feel a constant threat from those trying to take your place. Five of my original class of 12 girls are no longer at the School and their replacements arrive with all the excitement and enthusiasm I came here with four years ago.
In the next six months our year group will be auditioning for a limited number of places at our Upper School to complete our final three years of training. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think about how passionately I want to continue my training with The Royal Ballet School and I have to constantly remind myself that, even if I don’t pass this next big audition, there are many other exciting options for me to follow in order to obtain my dream of dancing in a top classical ballet company.
In the world of ballet, as in life in general, it is important to accept failure as part of succeeding. That being said, I’m quite certain that I will feel I have let both myself and my wonderfully supportive family down if I don’t find myself starting at The Royal Ballet Upper School this time next year.