Where Dancing Overshadows Everything

In the middle of Odense is a very special school - The Royal Theater’s Ballet School Odense. Over the last 16 years, the school has grown from 15 students to 124 students, spread out through all grades. The majority of students are girls, but they are also boys.

At this school you will meet children and young people who love to dance and who dream of standing as professionals on all the world stages. Even when the time requirements can sometimes seem overwhelming and one’s body is sore and bruised. Here no dream is too big.

All is quiet
The concentration radiates out of the eyes of the proud young people in the dance studio at the Royal Theater’s Ballet School in Odense. It is morning and the 3rd and 4th graders have their daily ballet lessons.

Piano tones sound through the speakers and the children's joints are stretched all the way out to their longest toes.

After 1 hour and 15 minutes, the lesson is over. The students go to their teacher, and say thank you for the lesson. Tomorrow, they will do it all over again. All students dance every day. 

Everyone has been through an entrance exam to become a student here.

“Basically, it requires that you have the right physical preconditions, and those physical preconditions are out of one’s control. When you are admitted to this school, we say, that 70 percent is will, 20 percent is hard work, and 10 percent is talent, ” says director, Inge Fjord.

THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE
Every year, all of the students go to a dance evaluation where each student's development, focus, and motivation are assessed. In sixth grade, the students are tested in classical ballet. Those, who are deemed suitable, transfer from the school in Odense to the ballet school in Copenhagen, where they will live in a dormitory, associated with the school. From there, they develop their professional careers.

“There is a small handful of students from every grade, which continue into a professional career. If we succeed with one classical dancer and two modern dancers per grade, then we have reached our goal, ” explains Inge Fjord.

For her and the teachers at the school, there is just as much satisfaction in watching the students continue in jobs and educations in choreography, dance pedagogy, or the like, when they finish at primary school. 

The lessons learned in dance and movement follow the students into their academic classes. The ballet school’s students have generally good averages in their final examinations, perhaps because concentration is mastered in ballet.

“In Denmark, we should have many more school offers with an aesthetic program for children and young people. In our case, we are set in the world to produce dancers, but it could just as well be a school that focused on engineering or robots. What young people it could educate, ” adds Inge Fjord.

NOT JUST FOR FUN
The level of ambition at the ballet school is high. And the students are aware that many others want their places - and it's not only for fun. And it is a deliberately chosen path that permeates the school years, says the school’s director. The children should be able to feel that the directors and the teachers are just as ambitious and passionate about dance and education, as they are.

“Our main objective is to bring an academic education, art, and human development into a higher unity for the young people. We want to create whole humans, who can go out into the world and enrich and move it, with what they learned here, ” expresses Inge and continues,

"Will they become dancers - we don't know, but if we have done what we can, to guide them to be the best versions of themselves - then we have achieved our goal."

This text is a freely translated version of an article from a magazine.