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Press Release: New Chair TAKES TO THE STAGE at Elmhurst Ballet School

Jan McNulty

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New Chair TAKES TO THE STAGE at Elmhurst Ballet School


Today, Elmhurst Ballet School, in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, announces the appointment of Dan Howard as its new Chair of the Board of Governors. The appointment is with immediate effect.

Howard succeeds Roy Shields who steps down after six years in the post.


Elmhurst is Europe’s oldest vocational dance school and started life in Surrey in 1923, nearly one hundred years ago.  The school relocated to Birmingham in 2004 to form what has become a thriving association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Based in Edgbaston, it is a world-renowned centre of excellence and prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to become the thinking dance professionals of the future.

Howard studied at London School of Economics and has worked in a range of marketing, communication and educational roles, including Deputy Head of Bournemouth Media School, and Dean of the Faculty of Media, Art and Communications and Associate Pro Vice Chancellor at University of Gloucestershire. Under his leadership, Gloucestershire and its partners were designated a Skillset Media Academy. In 2008, he moved to Birmingham City University to lead the newly founded Faculty of Performance, Media and English. His responsibilities included supervision of Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham School of Acting, the School of English and Birmingham School of Media, the latter successful for re-accreditation as a Skillset Media Academy.


After BCU, Howard worked as an Interim Manager and Consultant and chaired the Board of Governors at Hereford College of Art and the Board of Directors of the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, London. He has consulted for the Higher Education Academy, York, acted as Interim Deputy Head of Arts and Humanities at St. Mary's University, Twickenham, and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries at University of South Wales working closely with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Economy, Science and Transport to establish Screen Alliance Wales. Most recently, as Interim Head of the College of Art, Architecture, Design and Humanities at Nottingham Trent he spent six months on the Board of Notts TV.


Commenting on his appointment, Dan Howard, said:It’s an honour to have been elected as Chair of Elmhurst Ballet School’s Board of Governors. Elmhurst, in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, is one of the UK’s leaders in dance education with a firm focus on the classical ballet tradition. As the School moves towards its 100th year, it combines a proud heritage, a caring community and an ongoing aspiration to strengthen its position among the elite of international ballet education.


But at Elmhurst, elite doesn’t mean elitist. Many families whose children attend Elmhurst, supported by the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme, have modest or low incomes. Classical ballet and dance education can and should be for all. Elmhurst Ballet School stands out as gem of vocational education, nurturing individuality and transforming lives.”


Jessica Wheeler, Principal of Elmhurst Ballet School, added: “Elmhurst Ballet School is thrilled to have Dan Howard joining as its new Chair. Dan has an impressive record in the education and communications sector and is a worthy successor to the excellent Roy Shields who achieved so much in his time with the School. Roy’s enthusiasm and drive has given Elmhurst focus and purpose in improving the offer to its students. His involvement in all of the many building projects has been invaluable- and his attention to detail second to none!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, staff and students at Elmhurst, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Roy and I welcome Dan as we enter a new chapter for the School with new ambitions and new horizons.”





Elmhurst Ballet School is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham and is the oldest vocational school in the UK, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023. It is a world-renowned centre of excellence in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet and prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to become the thinking dance professionals of the future. The School nurtures individuality through a holistic approach to training, education and health, which helps students to become independent, collaborative and versatile artists, ready to take their professional places on the world stage. Elmhurst’s dance training is of the highest quality and is delivered by current and former dance professionals. It is enhanced by opportunities to work with Birmingham Royal Ballet, visiting choreographers and dance artists.


Training to become an elite ballet dancer is both physically and emotionally demanding. We therefore take a unique approach to health and wellbeing, founded on close working relationships across the School. This approach enables us to offer our students access to a range of health services including: nurses; doctors; physiotherapy; nutrition advice; pastoral care and counselling; dance psychology; strength and conditioning; and performance enhancement coaching.


We offer a strong academic education to all of our students to complement and enrich our vocational dance training, and to help develop well-rounded and versatile graduate students. Dance careers can be cut short by injury, or a change in aspiration and in these cases, academic education is particularly invaluable.

Elmhurst Ballet School launches Elmhurst Ballet Company in 2019.



Twitter: @elmhurstdance // Instagram: @elmhurstballetschool  // Facebook: Elmhurst Ballet School


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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:



............Elmhurst is Europe’s oldest vocational dance school and started life in Surrey in 1923, nearly one hundred years ago. .....

(I'm not quoting Jan personally of course, but the Elmhurst press release.)


I thought the ballet schools in Paris, Copenhagen, St Petersburg, Moscow all date back to the 17th/18th C?

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