LCB aims to inspire the pursuit of excellence and change lives through dance. It is both a performance company and a registered charity, producing and staging one new ballet in London’s West End each year and running outreach work throughout the year in primary schools and disadvantaged communities.
LCB offers extensive training and performance opportunities for free to talented children from all backgrounds. It provides access to productions and free dance experience for those who cannot afford it, and takes ballet into the community for those who are physically unable to attend the theatre.
The charitable objective of the charity is to promote the knowledge, education and experience of the art of ballet for children in Greater London, the Home Counties and South East areas. Within this broader objective, LCB's aims are:
In 1993 Lucille Briance had a shy, quiet, 10 year old daughter with a passion for ballet; the dance studio was the place her daughter transformed into a confident, focused and happy child. Lucille sought a community that her daughter could join to build on this strength. Unable to find a children’s ballet company, Lucille met with Daryl Jaffray, then head of education outreach for The Royal Ballet and proposed the idea of starting one, if The Royal Ballet would advise on the choreographer.
Thereafter, the key decision that set LCB on its course – and which continues to make LCB stand apart from other opportunities – was the Founder’s determination not to charge a fee to children who wanted to participate. Dancers from all social and economic backgrounds can be part of LCB and there is no financial barrier to talent. From the beginning, the Company took a holistic approach, aiming to enhance rather than compete with the child’s education and normal ballet training. LCB dancers would stay in their academic schools and, through LCB, gain a better understanding of their potential as a dancer. The upper age limit of 14 was set to avoid distracting dancers in their GCSE years.
The main objective of LCB has never been to find great future ballerinas. The Company is therefore unencumbered by the limiting requirements of body shape and size that are normal for vocational ballet training. Instead, LCB looks for dancers with star quality and appeal rather than strict body type. This embracing, inclusive attitude is unique in ballet and has become a hallmark of the LCB.
The decision during LCB’s first performance season at The Britten Theatre to give 50 tickets to a local day centre for the elderly and another 50 to a local primary school was the seed for what has now grown to be the LCB’s Ballet for £1 outreach matinees. That first year, the tearful thanks of elderly guests leaving the theatre and a moving letter from a primary school teacher led to the expansion of LCB’s mission. Reaching out to the community is now core to LCB’s work.
The score for The Happy Prince, LCB’s first ballet, was an arrangement of various pieces of Elgar’s music. In LCB’s second year an emerging composer was commissioned to create a fully original work, their first ballet. So began LCB’s mission to give emerging creative artists in design, choreography and music a unique collaborative career opportunity to create West End ballet from scratch.
Twenty years later, LCB has grown to be a leader in dance education. Every year LCB sells out 8,000 seats. LCB has commissioned 14 original narrative ballets and brought thousands of some of the most isolated people in the Greater London area to see their first ballet. Every year 10,000 people are touched by at least one of LCB’s programmes. LCB has developed a reputation for excellence at all levels with critics, the audience, young dancers and their families. The challenge is to secure the future of this exciting and thriving concept as it passes from one generation to the next.