Meet Oliver Till: Joffrey's New Head of Children's, Adult, and Adaptive Programs
Till is inspired by dance's ability to connect everyone.
After graduating from The Royal Ballet School, Oliver Till became a soloist at Birmingham Royal Ballet before teaching at the Swedish National Ballet School. Now at the helm of Joffrey's Children's Division, Adult Open Division, and Adaptive Programs, Till sat down to talk about his experience as an artist and educator and what he hopes to contribute to the student experience. Whether for aspiring professionals or enthusiasts interested in learning ballet as a means of self-expression, Till prioritizes making dance accessible for all students.
You've got quite the personal history…can you fill us in on some of the details?
"I am a former Soloist at Birmingham Royal Ballet. I grew up in the UK, where I attended The Royal Ballet School. During my time as a professional, I danced the works of many acclaimed choreographers, such as Kenneth MacMillan, Peter Wright, Frederick Ashton, David Bintley, Stanton Welch, and Jessica Lang, to name a few. I attained my BA(Hons) Business with Environment degree, and since leaving the stage, I have trained in Progressive Ballet Technique and completed the ABT's National Training Curriculum Pre-Primary to Level 7 and Partnering. Prior to moving to Joffrey Ballet, my family and I lived in Sweden."
What do you hope to bring to your new role here, and how does it fit into "Joffrey for All"?
"There are two main objectives in coming to this role. First, to facilitate the continued work and technical and artistic excellence that is expected from the school and support the students and teachers in achieving this. The second is to grow the influence and access that the Academy has. More young people having access to classes and experiences at Joffrey Academy of Dance, increasing opportunities for those who are or would like to be part of our Adaptive Division, and strengthening the community of our Adult Open classes."
Do you have a primary mission for the Academy? And what type of environment do you hope to create for dancers?
“The Academy’s primary mission is to provide a world-class education in ballet and dance. With its focus on providing that to the diverse range of students that will experience it. In the Professional Training Programs, the mission is to give them the skills to be the next generation of professional dancers and for some to join our very own Joffrey Ballet. Under our Joffrey for All, the mission is to provide dance education and accessibility across age, level, experience, and physical ability. Regarding an environment for our dancers, we want to create an environment that promotes well-being and a safe space for all while promoting dedication to the art form and focus on excellence, no matter where you experience the Academy.”
Could you tell us about the importance of offering children's, adults, and adaptive programs?
"We have to ensure everyone has a chance to experience dance; the benefits are well-documented nowadays. Whether you are an aspiring professional ballet dancer, enjoy a structured session after work, or use music to help you move, we must give access to as many people as possible. Ballet is a performing art, and if we don't look to grow its audience, there will be no one left to watch it; experiencing it firsthand gives an appreciation of why it is so rewarding."
Name one thing you like to emphasize to your students.
"One thing is hard to pick! They have to find the fun in what they do and understand that something worth achieving doesn't get done in a day. Enjoy the process, not the destination."
What does it mean for dancers to have programs like these available?
"I know what it meant to me to have the ability to try dance and then be able to pursue that passion with relative ease. Without the low barrier to entry, I may never have had the opportunity to do something I love and continue to be a small part of its future. It's important that we continue to broaden the reach to encourage more dancers to try it out."
What can your students expect to take away from the experience?
"My hope is that they come away with memories and experiences that positively impact their future, whether that future is in dance or not."
What made you gravitate toward teaching dance?
"I feel very privileged to have had the teachers I had in my training. Passing on what I feel is their knowledge through me is a special feeling. Creating even a small impact on someone is incredibly rewarding, and finding better ways to do that keeps me teaching."
How does dance inspire you?
It is about how it makes you feel...and how you can make others feel. It's the ability to connect everyone.
About the Joffrey Academy’s Children's, Adult, and Adaptive Programs
At the Joffrey Academy of Dance, nurturing a love of dance at a young age sparks a true passion for the art form. The Children’s Division builds a strong foundation by focusing on posture, placement, discipline, coordination, strength, flexibility, and musicality. The Adult Open Division is designed for adult dancers of all abilities, while our Adaptive Dance programs offer the opportunity for students with diverse movement abilities to learn and enjoy the elements of dance.
Visit joffrey.org/academy for more information about our programs.