Last summer, BBC Cymru Wales commissioned a four part documentary, BALLET SCHOOL, based on five Welsh students at Elmhurst School for Dance, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Associate School. The team followed the students over the course of the academic year 2009/10.
Photography throughout © BBC Pictures
The series will air weekly from Tuesday 24th August on BBC2 Wales. If you are not in Wales, each show will be available on BBC i-player on the following Wednesday – so 25th for the first show).
I have previously interviewed a student from Elmhurst, Maria Engel, who is now dancing with Estonian Ballet. Maria said of her first visit to Elmhurst, “when I went with my mum to Elmhurst, it was so friendly and my mum felt really comfortable with the school, which seemed really like home, and I felt really comfortable.”
Ballet School, Tuesday, August 24, BBC Two Wales, 7.30pm bbc.co.uk/wales
In a brand new series, Ballet School (Tuesday, August 24, BBC Two Wales), BBC Cymru Wales goes behind the scenes at the prestigious Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham, charting the struggles and triumphs of the talented Welsh students who have won places to study there.
The cameras will follow the pupils as they nurture their dream of becoming professional ballet dancers, giving viewers a unique insight into the fascinating and often hidden world where success is hard fought for and the big prize limited to only the chosen few.
The dancers featured in the series are Adam Russell-Jones from Cardiff, Dominic Handford from Swansea, Rebecca Haw from Chepstow, Michael Harris from Barry and Joseph Fawcett from mid Wales.
Adam Russell-Jones begins the academic year with an injury which has left him unable to dance for a year.
Dominic Handford first became passionate about ballet when watching cartoons of Angelina Ballerina at home and his family wanted to do anything they could to achieve his dream – so they sold their house to free up enough money to send him to ballet school.
Viewers will also meet Rebecca Haw as she enters the sixth form. At sixteen she’s now preparing herself for the tough and competitive world of professional ballet.
Michael Harris, like Dominic, doesn’t come from a traditional ballet background. Also sixteen he faces GCSEs and auditions for the sixth form as well as a gruelling regime of ballet.
Joseph Fawcett is 11-years-old and the youngest of the Welsh ballet students. Joseph had been home tutored until attending Elmhurst so this was his first taste of formal education. In the first programme we see him landing a role in a Birmingham Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker – a taste of the life of a professional dancer.
Tuesday, August 31, BBC Two Wales, 7pm
It’s the spring term at prestigious Elmhurst Dance School where five Welsh pupils are following their dreams to be professional ballet dancers in Ballet School (Tuesday, August 31, BBC Two Wales).
But there’s already a hitch to the start of term – heavy snowfall means it’s a struggle for some to make it on time. Those that do, such as Dominic Handford from Swansea and Adam Russell-Jones from Cardiff, are swapping their tendus in class for tobogganing.
However the fun is short-lived for Dominic – his family can no longer meet the Birmingham-based dance school fees and his weekends often mean a trek around other ballet schools to see if he can win a funded place.
Adam Russell-Jones is finding his ballet feet again after nearly a year off due to injury, and is taking GCSE dance a year early, including a piece he has to choreograph himself. Michael Harris from Barry is also practising hard, hoping to succeed in the prestigious solo competition, while Rebecca Haw from Chepstow is enjoying the freedoms of living off campus in lodgings of her own.
More details to come…..