Thelma Litster, a former soloist with Ballet Rambert, was a dancer with a vision. She believed that ballet and performance should be open to everyone, not just the lucky few with the physique and good fortune to succeed in the professional world. It is this belief that still underpins the work of Chelsea Ballet, the group she founded in 1967. Sadly, Thelma died in May 2002 after a brave battle with cancer, but the legacy continues through her daughter, Louise Hudson, who runs the company today.
Chelsea Ballet members come in all shapes and sizes and range in age from mid 20s to over 70. They have full time careers in fields as diverse as accountancy, translation, medicine and motherhood, but are united by their love of dance. The company's ethos has always been very inclusive, with every dancer encouraged to develop and tackle new roles and get involved in helping to run this self-supporting group. There are no auditions; Chelsea Ballet welcomes people with a passion for ballet who have reached at least an elementary standard with experience of pointework (for women). It also welcomes help with the running of shows, both backstage and front of house, costumes, props, backcloths and sets.
Chelsea Ballet has staged full length classics including Swan Lake, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, along with original productions such as The Yellow Dwarf, Impressions of Inuyasha and Cinderella, opening up the rare opportunity to perform classical repertoire to innumerable amateur dancers over the years. The company has toured to Barcelona, Bristol, Swindon, Yorkshire and Ireland and has even trod the boards of the Lilian Baylis Theatre (Sadler's Wells), the London Palladium and at a number of exhibitions including the Luxury Travel Fair at Olympia in December 2009. Members are also given the chance to choreograph new works, which some have grabbed with open arms.
Just as importantly, Chelsea Ballet also takes dance to an audience that would not normally see live performances, visiting hospitals and residential homes on a regular basis. Visit Chelsea Ballet in the community for more information.
Chelsea Ballet also organises a week long summer school for adults each August and information will be included on our Summer School page when available.