Established in 1930, the British Ballet Organization is justly proud of the heritage and tradition of its famous founders, Edouard Espinosa & Eve Kelland. The name Espinosa is recognised worldwide as one of the most important influences in the development of dance and training of dancers.
Woolborough House in London was the Espinosa family home from 1913. On the formation of the British Ballet Organization, it became the Headquarters until their move to a new, purpose-built building in Battersea Reach in 2015. Woolborough House, which was such an essential part in the history of dance in the UK, hosted classes, BBO Examinations, and provided rehearsal space for many leading dance companies and professional artists. Many famous students studied with Espinosa at Woolborough House, including Phyllis Bedells and Ninette de Valois.
Edouard Espinosa was the son of Léon Espinosa, a revered dancer who trained at the Paris Opera before settling in London in 1872, where he became a popular dance teacher. Edouard trained with his father and showed a particular talent for teaching. He assisted his father in analysing and recording specific steps.
Edouard was key in establishing the first examining body in the UK, the Association of Operatic Dancers (AOD), which later became the Royal Academy of Dance. Edouard left the AOD in 1929 and began on the path to create the British Ballet Organization. He would create an esteemed ballet teaching syllabus using the dance steps he had recorded with his father as a clear basis. Edouard was also responsible for establishing the work of the BBO in Australasia in 1936.
The organisation has subsequently had key stewardships over the years, with Edward Kelland-Espinosa taking over from Edouard in 1950. Edward, with the support of his sister, Yvette Espinosa, continued the tireless work of his father in promoting the needs of the organisation and its members until 1987. John Field & Anne Heaton became respectively the new Director and Artistic Director of the BBO. They developed the original syllabus of Edouard & Léon Espinosa and created new syllabi in other genres. Subsequently, the BBO gained recognition of their syllabus and examinations by the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT).
The BBO then went through a period of inconsistency and change until John Travis was appointed CEO and Artistic Director in 1995. John studied the BBO syllabus and trained at the Royal Ballet School before dancing professionally with London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet). Throughout his time with the BBO, John was instrumental in developing the Scholars Scheme, members' events, and gaining Government recognition for the organisation's qualifications.
John was also integral to the move to the new Headquarters in addition to creating an archive of the BBO, all of which helps to protect the legacy of the organisation for future generations.
As the organisation looks to the future with its new Headquarters and identity, the care of the organisation and its members now falls to Executive Chairman Nic Espinosa, CEO Robin Bloor, and a fantastic team who are determined to retain the ethos and tradition of excellence in the training of dancers that was so firmly established by Edouard Espinosa.