A Day At Elmhurst School for Dance
Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside a vocational ballet school ? Olivia Caughey recently won a prize to visit Elmhurst School For Dance at the 2013 Move It expo. Caughey is 15 years old and will be auditioning for Upper Schools, including Elmhurst, in the coming months.
Caughey spent a day at the School last Thursday (November 7th) and here, in her own words, she describes her experiences.
My Day at Elmhurst School for Dance
“I entered a competition at the Move It dance exhibition earlier this year and was thrilled to win the opportunity to spend a day at Elmhurst School for Dance, the associate school of Birmingham Royal Ballet.
The day started with a 5am alarm call followed by a 4-hour car journey to Birmingham with my dance teacher Joanne Bond. When I arrived at Elmhurst I was greeted by Robert Parker, the school’s Artistic Director and former Principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
After a short tour of the school seeing the beautiful studios and amazing facilities, I was shown to a studio to warm up before joining the Year 11 girls for a ballet class with teacher Gloria Grigolato. I thoroughly enjoyed the class as it pushed and tested me plus it was wonderful to see some of my friends who attend Elmhurst on a full-time basis. I’d got to know some of the current students after attending various summer schools in the past.
After morning ballet class I had an early lunch in the Elmhurst Bistro. The food was delicious and the atmosphere in the Bistro was very positive, everybody seemed happy and friendly. I had a chat with Elmhurst’s Principal Jessica Ward. She was extremely nice and told me more about the school, particularly the education side – just as important as the vocational training!
After lunch, I watched the graduate year students in a pas de deux and solos class with teachers Errol Pickford & Lei Zhao. Lei is a former First Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet so I found this experience very exciting. The class was inspiring as the students learned variations from The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote and The Nutcracker. It gave me invaluable insight into upper school life and a pas de deux class. I met some of the graduates and we talked about their time at the school – they all said how much they loved being at the school!
I then watched a contemporary workshop with choreographer Paul Rooney and the upper school’s first year students. I really loved Paul’s way of teaching and it was obvious to me that all the students loved participating in his class. Paul is also a former student of Elmhurst School for Dance and has gone on to work with many choreographers including Christopher Hampson, Didy Veldman, Marie Brolin-Tani, and Matthew Bourne.
My day at Elmhurst was fantastic! I loved the friendly atmosphere and I was sad to leave at the end of an amazing day. It has inspired me to work even harder in the hope that one day I can also be a student at Elmhurst School for Dance.”