Budding Billy Elliotts got a chance to show off their skills when they performed at Dance City in Newcastle, thanks to an initiative run by The Royal Ballet.
The children from St Bede’s Catholic Primary School in Bedlington, Northumberland were participating in the Chance to Dance programme, which introduces ballet to young people across the country.
Headteacher Therese Worrall explained: “Chance to Dance gives primary school children who do not have access to ballet their first opportunity to engage creatively with ballet, connecting closely with the inspirational choreographers and dancers of The Royal Ballet.
“The Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet School work collaboratively to offer children in school the chance to learn about ballet, share in the expertise of a local dance school, and then perform to an audience.”
She continued: “Initially this project was based in the south of England, but the Royal Opera House decided that children across the country should be offered this chance. At St Bede’s, we leapt at the chance – or perhaps we should say sissonned or jeted!”
The whole of Year 3 at St Bede’s, which is a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, was involved in the programme, along with pupils from three other schools.
The Bedlington group had weekly sessions with dance teacher Nicola Gauld, from Nicola Gauld School of Dance, to prepare them for the combined performance at Dance City, which was attended by the dancers’ friends and family members, as well as staff from the four schools.
“During one lesson, the children were beginning to learn lifts,” said Mrs Worrall. “It was magical to watch how they started with simple techniques and learning the theory, then putting it into practice and actually seeing them lift each other.”
Among those taking part, Reuben said: “It is great – it’s just learning lots of different dances”, while Oscar said, “I feel kind of free when I do dance”, and Aradhana agreed, “It’s cool and I love it so much.”
Fellow dancer Lily added: “It’s nice, because some of the boys are like total football boys, but I know that they like to dance, because I can tell by the look on their faces they really do enjoy it.”
“This event and similar ones are so important to us at St Bede’s,” said Mrs Worrall. “It allows us to show our children the different avenues they can take in life; that there is not just a linear approach to school and ultimately life.
“As we constantly remind our children, we are all so unique, and all have talents and passions within us just waiting to come out and flourish.
“Projects such as Chance to Dance allow us as a school to provide opportunities for all our pupils.”
At the close of the programme, a select number of the St Bede’s pupils will be offered a bursary to continue their dance careers at the Nicola Gould School of Dance.
“It will be so exciting to see who continues dancing after the end of this year’s project,” added Mrs Worrall. “It would be fabulous if Bedlington was able to have their very own Billy Elliott grown from this project.”
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