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News > Career Stories > Joshua Royal on a Life in Ballet!

Joshua Royal on a Life in Ballet!

In conversation with Joshua as he reflects on his career and lessons learnt
23 May 2022
Career Stories

Old Mole Joshua Royal left Moulsford in 2002, following a successful audition to gain entry into the prestigious Royal Ballet School as an eleven-year-old boy.  Joshua dedicated many years entirely to ballet.  Touring with the finest ballet companies in the world, he performed at some of the most renowned venues alongside global stars in the dance world.  We caught up with him to find out about his experiences and what the future holds.

What drew you to dance as a young boy?

I remember going to watch my first ballet in London aged four, and being totally absorbed by it. I knew then.  I have to do that!  As a kid, I embraced music, taking violin, singing and ballet lessons.

What reaction did you receive from your family and at school?

My family was so supportive, I couldn’t have hoped for a better family, as I was adopted.  They gave me the room to develop my passion and go with it.  Having said that, my mum did always joke, “If only you did your tables instead of dancing on them!”  And at Moulsford, the boys were pretty cool with me doing my thing.  Trevor Bissell was so encouraging and all the staff helped me nourish my passion.  Mike Higham even came to see me perform with the Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House.  Moulsford really prepared me well, because it gave me confidence in myself and instilled a sense of discipline.  One of my best memories was dancing at the Carol Service in Pangbourne College, where I performed a solo dance to ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ in front of the whole school, the parents and staff assembled in that magnificent chapel.  It was a very special moment for me.

What were some of the highlights of your ballet career?

I remember performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Royal Albert Hall with English National Ballet. It was a real highlight because it is such an awe-inspiring venue.  As a student with the Royal Ballet School, I absolutely loved performing Sleeping Beauty, Macbeth, Swan Lake & Don Quixote at the Royal Opera House with both The Royal Ballet & Kirov Opera.

Where did your career take you?

After I graduated from the Royal Ballet School, I went on to do a degree course at the Central School of Ballet and in my final year, I toured the UK with Ballet Central.  Next, I went to The Rock School for Dance Education in the US and toured the UK and Europe with Vienna Festival Ballet, MurleyDance, Neo Ballet, Hack Ballet and English National Ballet. 

What is the dance industry like to be in?

Oh, it is a brutal industry.  It’s so competitive, and soul-destroying at times.  There are always auditions, and you get so many knockbacks.  You have to deal with rejection, and a barrage of criticism from ‘not good enough, to too fat or too skinny’.  That is the world you live in, but the good thing from all of that is that you come out stronger, and you learn from it.  There are so many sacrifices to perform at that level.  On tour, you get homesick and miss your family and friends.  But on the upside, you get such a buzz from being on stage and that is the reward.  When on tour, the ballet company becomes your life, and are like a family with everyone there supporting each other, but don’t go into ballet if you want to make a lot of money. It’s long hours and low pay, but for me, it was the most rewarding career in the world!

What have you been doing since leaving the world of ballet? 

In 2015, I decided to hang up my shoes, because I had lost my passion for it, and dancing didn’t seem to make me happy anymore. I had a good break from it and thought about what it was that I wanted to do next. I decided to study for a diploma in teaching dance, and am graduating from the Royal Academy of Dance in September.  That will allow me to focus on teaching dance to children and enable me to channel my passion in a positive new direction.  I am currently working with SEN children at a private school in South London, and look forward to helping children through dance therapy in the future.  Whilst doing that, I also work on setting up events of my own and am working on The Naked Truth, which is a gala event to raise money for charity.  With this new career path, I think I can balance life better, and am looking forward to settling down and having a family life.  I’ve had my time in the dance profession, and I now have moved on.

From your life experiences, what advice would you give your younger self?

I have three pieces of advice.

Firstly, follow your dreams!

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Focus on what you’re passionate about.

Secondly, treat everyone with respect!

One of the things I’m grateful to Moulsford for is that it taught me to treat everyone with respect. It was instilled in me to value and respect people and embrace their differences.

Finally, stay true to yourself and stand up for what you believe!

Embrace who you really are. You don’t need to follow others, you can do something different, and be different. That’s how you shine, so believe in yourself.

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