10 mighty women who shaped the RAD

A brief look at just some of the hugely influential women from the history of the RAD.

Dame Adeline Genée

The famously enchanting Danish ballerina was co-founder and first President of the RAD. She gave her name to the Academy’s flagship competition, first held in 1931.

Karsavina in Russian dance costume 1929. Dress by Gontcharova. Photographer unknown.

Tamara Karsavina

Diaghilev’s star ballerina – famously, she was the first Firebird – was a founder of the RAD. The Russian dancer also devised a landmark syllabus for the Academy.

Phyllis Bedells

A co-founder of the RAD in 1920, for whom its longstanding bursary competition is named. Born in Bristol, she was the first British prima ballerina of the Empire Ballet.

Dame Margot Fonteyn

The matchless ballerina – beloved across the world – was RAD President from 1954–91.

Dame Ninette de Valois

No one did more than the Irish-born director to establish British ballet, founding what became the Royal Ballet. She was the first recipient of the RAD’s prestigious QEII Award.

Julia Farron

An early member of the Royal Ballet, she became Assistant Director and then Director of the RAD, retiring in 1989.

Antoinette Sibley in Harlequin in April 1959 at Covent Garden. Credit: Royal Academy of Dance/ArenaPAL.

Dame Antoinette Sibley

The British ballerina who created iconic roles like Manon and Titania was RAD President from 1991–2012.

Professor Joan White

The Academy’s first Director of Education and creator of the Faculty of Education, she pioneered the RAD’s world-class standing in teacher training.

Lynn Wallis

As the RAD’s former Artistic Director, she led a transforming renewal of the syllabi and an expansion of the Genée to include original work.

Dame Darcey Bussell

A star of the Royal Ballet and former judge of Strictly Come Dancing, the British ballerina has been President of the RAD since 2012.

This list was first published in the June 2018 edition of Dance Gazette.