Image: English National Ballet dancers in their final ballet class in the Donald Barclay Studio of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Dancers of English National Ballet on the fire escape of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Female dancers of English National Ballet in their final ballet class in the Donald Barclay Studio of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

English National Ballet dancers in their final ballet class in the Sir Anton Dolan / Paul Clarke Studio of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Amber Hunt looking over at the final ballet class in the Donald Barclay Studio of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Staff of English National Ballet on the fire escape of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

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The Costume department all packed up, and ready to move out of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Fernanda Oliveira and Erina Takahashi in the dressing room they share at Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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.

Crystal Costa in front of the entrance to Markova House in Jay Mews © Ian Gavan.

Thanks to this wonderful building for all we’ve been able to create and achieve here these past 43 years. We’ll miss Markova House but are very much looking forward to making new history at London City Island.

Anjuli Hudson packing rehearsal tutus in the Donald Barclay Studio of Markova House © Ian Gavan.

You can support us and our work by making a donation towards the essential finishing touches we need in the new building. Join in and help us make this extraordinary new building a creative hub for current and future generations.

More images of Markova House below:

Costume fabric ready to pack up at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Empty noticeboards at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Costume mannequin waiting to move from Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Donald Barclay Studio at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Donald Barclay Studio at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Packing up our tutus at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Adam Lawford and Allison Gold in the Marketing office of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Heather Clark Charrington in the Marketing office of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Drew Potter packing away things for the Engagement department © Ian Gavan.
Suzanne Omer at the reception of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
A staircase at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
The Press office at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
All packed and ready to leave Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Kerrison Cooke Studio (the smallest studio of Markova House) © Ian Gavan.
43 years to pack up at Markova House – in the Sir Anton Dolin / Paul Clarke Studio © Ian Gavan.
Louisa Wood and Laura Howes in the Development office of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Anton Green and Adrian Wyer in the Facilities office of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Dancers of English National Ballet in one of their last rehearsals at Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Jung Ah Choi in one of the last rehearsals at Markova House (Donald Barclay Studio) © Ian Gavan.
Dancers in the Green Room of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Rhys Antoni Yeomans in front of the Wall, where dancers of English National Ballet have made it a tradition to sign their names on when leaving the Company © Ian Gavan.
Carolyne Galvao packing up in the dressing rooms of Markova House © Ian Gavan.
Katja Khaniukova next to the packing crates for our move from Markova House © Ian Gavan.
James Streeter packing away at Markova House © Ian Gavan.

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