The contract team who created the new School of Ballet Theatre UK venue in Hinckley, Leicestershire, have been applauded by the company’s co-directors Daniel Hope and Christopher Moore.
Colmar Construction worked with Hayward Architects on the internal design and re-configuration scheme for the venue, which houses a ballet school and a professional, touring Ballet Company (Ballet Theatre UK). The facility is spread over three floors in a town centre concrete block building constructed in 1963.
Daniel Hope told Premier Construction:
“We gave the contractors a very tight timeframe as we had to have everything ready for the start of term. The contract team were just fantastic – they got everything sorted so we were ready for the deadline and the builders even stayed on to help us some install huge 50 x 80 inch pictures all around the dance studios – which really was the icing on the cake for us.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the result. The architect and contractor worked hand in hand to guide us through the design and construction process and we have had good feedback. In fact our patron Daria Klimentova, a prima ballerina and ex-principal of the English National Ballet came to visit and told us that our facility is of the same standard as that of the Royal Ballet – so that was fantastic.”
The space occupied by the new venue was previously used for document storage by a building society located on the ground floor of the building.
Daniel Hope said:
“All of the windows were blocked in, there was no natural light and only bare concrete floors and walls – it really was a shell – but as such was exactly what we were looking for, as it gave us the blank canvas we needed. Any suspended ceilings would have had to come out as we needed maximum ceiling height, and any flooring would have had to be removed as we wished to install sprung floors. The only thing inside the space was a couple or partition walls which we took down so the architect could design the optimum layouts we wanted.”
The new facility incorporates three large studios with the largest being 20m by 15m; classrooms for academic studies; male and female student and staff changing facilities; offices on each floor; staff rooms; toilets and a costume workshop that was previously a bank vault and still retains its characteristic original door. A distinctive feature of the new interior is a glass walled common-room which has also been designed as an observational room and is positioned between the dance studios where students and professionals can be seen practicing.
The interior design is based on an ‘industrial city’ look with exposed brickwork and exposed steel girders painted white, with slate grey doors and flooring.
“As soon as the venue was ready we were inundated by applications from so many students that we have had to add two extra audition dates – so the quality of the building really does speak for itself. It has made a massive impact on our school” said Daniel Hope.
Christopher Moore said:
“What is special about us is that we will take on students from 16 upwards, after they have done their GCSEs. It means dancers can start work earlier – the more youthful they are the more time they have to work professionally.
“We are in a great location here in Hinckley and it will be a lot cheaper for the dancers to live here compared to the schools in London – you hear of so many families who have cashed in pensions and sold their homes just to put their children through ballet school.
“We provide training at the highest standard at an affordable price and generate home grown talent.
“The students also get firsthand experience of working with professional dancers from the company and opportunities to perform on stage.”
The school will take on 21 dancers for its first intake and is hoping to have around 30 students in each year once it is established.