Our story began in 1988 when Jill Tookey founded National Youth Ballet. Jill attended ballet classes from the age of 5 and went on to train at the Arts Educational School. Then followed a successful career as fashion editor of two national magazines. In the early 1980s she wrote a book called Pedro the Parrot, which was published and led to her adapting it as a ballet. She found a composer, Alan Ridout, boldly took on the direction herself and received great reviews. And so National Youth Ballet was born.
Jill worked on a full-time voluntary basis, and her exacting role as Executive and Artistic Director was achieved through her pioneering vitality, vision and creative flair. She had the foresight to understand that ballet and performing is about so much more than simply dance. She understood it was about giving young people exposure to choreography, music and costumes and encouraging them to become worldly-wise professionals. “Dream big, nothing is impossible, and spend time doing the things you most love” was her mantra.
Jill continually grew the Company and in 2015 Beyond Ballet was launched specifically for emerging choreographers to enable them to stage their own work. She saw no boundaries to people’s abilities and refused to accept second best. And this is what makes National Youth Ballet unique today.
It’s a living, breathing organism of passionate skilled dancers, inspirational mentors and creative artists that combine to make and define us. It continues to push boundaries by creating new innovative work for young people striving for excellence and the feeling of being part of something extraordinary.