I caught up with Désirée again to talk about her student days.
Can you tell me about your time at White Lodge ?
I will always remember my first day so clearly, standing at the foot of my bed in the dormitory and looking out at the faces of all the other 11 year old girls who were just like me, all with the same hope and dream, to become a ballerina. Standing there, I felt like I was at the beginning of a journey.
The 5 years I spent at White Lodge were information packed and so much of what I learnt invaluable – in fact, the lessons I learnt at White Lodge have become fundamental to who I am now. I remember being told one day that everyone I would meet during my time in the school would become people I would end up working with professionally. It is so true! I now work with many people I went to school with!
What did you enjoy about performing at the Open Days outside on the lawn ?
Performing first and foremost, and also I was always so proud to be able to show the endeavours of that year’s hard work to my parents.
How did you feel studying in such an historic building ?
Not only was it a great privilege to study in a building with such historical significance, but also inspiring to think of all the great dancers who had trained here before me and to hopefully be following in their footsteps.
What did you like about being based in Richmond Park ?
It was incredible to be able to study in the midst of such beauty and wildlife. There was nothing like waking up every morning to such magnificent views and hope to catch a glimpse of a deer in the distance.
Did you get the opportunity to visit Richmond and the surrounding area ?
Yes we would often go for walks in the Park and we were allowed to go to Sheen on weekends as of 3rd year; by the 5th year we were allowed to go to Richmond.
What did you dance at the Richmond Fair on The Green ?
I can’t remember in exact detail but I performed in various historical and National dances.
Did you ever meet anyone famous ?
Darcey Bussell stood out among other prominent figures of the ballet world. Darcey came to the school one afternoon to talk to us about life as a dancer, it was very inspirational.
What do you remember about your audition to White Lodge ?
I remember the studio we were auditioned in very clearly, even though as a Junior Associate I was used to going to Barons Court. It was almost as if that day the studio had a certain weight to it, it was where I wanted to be. Also I remember the nervous wait for the interview where we’d hear the result of the audition!
Any advice for aspiring ballet dancers ?
It is an incredible opportunity for anyone in their lives to be able to end up doing the job they want to do and love, hence my advice for any aspiring ballet dancer who really wants to succeed is to make every second count in the studio because it is that culmination of every drop of sweat, blood and tears that will get you to where you want to be.
You can read more about the Royal Ballet School students dancing at the Richmond May Fair here.
Here is a report on this year’s Open Day, held on a blazingly hot day to full capacity.
Incidentally, the exquisitely beautiful and delicate sculptures of dancers by Richard MacDonald (pictures in the report) are still at White Lodge, if you want to see them (see below for details of the Museum).
White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre
Entry to the White Lodge Museum is free of charge, but visitors must register in advance. Normal opening hours during term time are Tuesdays and Thursdays 13.30-15.30, with alternative times available for groups or special visits. Please call 020-8392 8440.