Urdang was founded in the 1970s in the midst of the Apartheid, a time of unmatched racial segregation and great social upheaval. It is no coincidence that Urdang’s founding and current ethos & values stand in stark contrast to the ethos and values held by much of the developed world during this time.
Having witnessed the effects that the incredulous Apartheid had on people of all social classes, skin colours, backgrounds and ethnicities – particularly black people from the diverse countries of Africa – Leonie Urdang moved to London to escape the permeating Apartheid rhetoric of inequality and exclusiveness.
The desire to live in a more fair, equitable and inclusive society that first brought Leonie to London long remained Leonie’s core belief and in 1970, she carried this belief forward, applying it to something she loved so dearly, dance. When Leonie Urdang started Urdang Academy in 1970 her vision was to break barriers that segregated the dance world, which at that time only accepted a particular type of person with a certain look. Miss Urdang looked beyond the surface and saw the individual, laying this as the founding ethos of her school, Urdang Academy.
The only thing that has changed since then is that the theatre world has caught up with that vision. Increasingly shows are about characters and personalities – dancers that can sing or singer-actors that can dance – and the performers in demand are those whose personality (combined with talent) shine out.
As the rhetoric surrounding inequality and exclusiveness strengthens once again in the world around us, Urdang Academy’s founding vision of diversity and inclusivity remains. With Solange Urdang at the helm since 2001, Urdang Academy has stayed true to its founding vision, constantly seeking opportunities to revitalise and cement this vision in new and exciting ways.
Urdang is now recognised as one of the UK’s finest performing arts colleges with an international reputation. Over 95% of recent graduates are working in the industry, many in lead West End roles.
We spot potential performers and give them a training and environment that develops and refines their technique and performance skills.
Solange Urdang, CEO