The Royal Opera House, Bow Street frontage, with the statue of Royal Ballerina Katie Pianoff in the foreground

MS ballet residency at the Royal Opera House

We're over the moon to mark acclaimed cellist Jaqueline du Pré's birthday with a very special announcement. We're partnering with the Royal Ballet for a three month residency with people from our MS community.

Over the community residency, people with MS (many of whom have never danced before) will develop a response to award-winning choreographer Cathy Marston’s new ballet, The Cellist.

A ballet to celebrate Jacqueline du Pré

The Cellist is inspired by the life and work of acclaimed musician Jacqueline du Pré, who lived with MS. The ballet itself will receive its world premiere at the Royal Opera House on Friday 17 February, and will be screened live in cinemas on Tuesday 25 February.

The MS residency will culminate with a ‘Live at Lunch’ special performance in the Royal Opera House’s Paul Hamlyn Hall on Friday 27 March.

Dancing at the Royal Opera House is a dream come true

Bea lives in London and has relapsing MS. She lives with symptoms like fatigue, pain and balance problems, but leapt at the chance to join the Royal Opera House project.

Bea said: “I’ve always been passionate about ballet and danced for years when I was younger. But when the time came to go to ballet school – meaning leaving my parents and moving 300 miles away – I had to give it up.

"Dance makes me feel free"

"I’ve sometimes regretted the decision as I would have loved to be a ballet teacher. Dance makes me feel free.”

“When I was diagnosed with MS 15 years ago I became very depressed, as I didn’t know what it would mean for my future. But now, to be able to dance somewhere like the Royal Opera House is truly a dream come true. I honestly can’t express how much it means – I feel like I can do anything!”

Choreographer Bim Malcomson leading ballet workshop in dance studio with people with MS

Finding our response to The Cellist

The weekly dance workshops will be delivered by choreographer Bim Malcomson (pictured above with people with MS). They'll encourage participants to find their own response to The Cellist while exploring the principals of ballet technique.

Our Director of Services, Ed Holloway, said: “This is a really exciting project and one we’re proud to be part of. MS is unpredictable and different for everyone, but many people wrongly assume having a condition like MS means dance and other forms of exercise are off limits. That is thankfully far from the truth – whatever your level of mobility or experience.”

All kinds of movement can be good for MS

“All kinds of movement can be good for people living with MS, helping improve mood and even some symptoms. We’re grateful to everyone who has helped make this project a reality, and hope it will encourage others with long term conditions to challenge themselves and embrace something new for 2020.”

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation for the Royal Opera House, adds: “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome this wonderful group of participants to the Royal Opera House as part of this special project. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this project yields throughout the series of workshops and the final Live at Lunch sharing."

Watch The Cellist and our community performance

You can watch The Cellist in cinemas until August 10 2020, all the showings are on the Royal Opera House website. Not sure ballet's for you? Read a review from our community.

Our MS community group will perform their ballet at a ‘Live at Lunch’ event in the Royal Opera House’s Paul Hamlyn Hall on Friday 27 March.

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