This week we say goodbye to Markova House, the Kensington studios we’ve called home since 1976. As we move onward to a brand new purpose-built home on London City Island, our dancers and staff say a fond farewell to our old stomping ground which is steeped in history. Discover a bit of its story and look at images from our last few weeks here.
English National Ballet (then London Festival Ballet) acquired the lease on Markova House in 1976. Before moving there, we were a truly nomadic company, first having offices at the Royal Festival Hall (then moving to Marylebone), with workshops for the Wardrobe department and rehearsal spaces scattered around London. Rehearsals often took place in the building now housing the Donmar Warehouse.
Markova House was originally named Festival Ballet House in 1977 but later renamed in honour of our founding ballerina and later patron Dame Alicia Markova.
The building was built as part of Queen Alexandra’s House, and it originally served as a hostel for 130 female students at the Royal College of Music. It is still possible to see the original fireplaces in a few of the current offices.
Dancers of English National Ballet have just three studios at Markova House; the largest, called the Donald Barclay Studio is where Rudolf Nureyev created his version of Romeo & Juliet for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
The staff of English National Ballet, including Administration, Artistic, Costume, Development, Engagement, Enterprises, Facilities, Finance, Marketing & Communications, Medical, Music, Operations, and Technical are all housed here in increasingly cramped quarters.
Over the years, improvements were made to accommodate our growing company and its needs: a kitchen area, a very small gym, a small physiotherapy suite, staff offices scattered across 5 floors.
English National Ballet School started at Markova House. This specialist training centre for young ballet dancers was founded in 1988. The School eventually moved to a separate home in South West London. We’re very excited that we will be housed under one roof once again.