BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET CELEBRATES THE SUCCESS OF ITS DANCE TRACK PROGRAMME
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dance Track programme seeks out and nurtures dance talent from primary schools across the City of Birmingham
Annually Dance Track reaches out to 35 schools across North and SouthBirmingham and delivers workshops to 2500 Year 1 pupils
Former Dance Track student now trains full-time at the Company’s associated school Elmhurst School for Dance
Facilitated by the company’s Learning Department for fifteen years, Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to announce the continued success of its Dance Track programme. Dance Track’s achievements have lead to the creation of the Dance Track plus programme and a former Birmingham primary school and Dance Track student is now studying at Birmingham Royal Ballet’s associated school Elmhurst School for Dance in Edgbaston.
Since 1997 Dance Track has enabled primary school pupils (Key Stage 1) to access ballet, opening Birmingham Royal Ballet’s doors to those who would not ordinarily be introduced to the art-form. The initiative reaches out to young people from across the City of Birmingham, a city known for its ethnic and cultural diversity. Students come to Dance Track from a wide range of white, black and minority ethnic groups, irrelevant of their social and economic background. Dance Track student ethnicities for the current 2012-13 cohort are 41% Caucasian and 59% from Black and Minority Ethnic groups.
By participating in schools’ workshops, students’ confidence, communication skills and creativity is greatly enhanced. Dance Track continues to work with students who display a particular talent by preparing them for auditions to top ballet schools in the UK, including Elmhurst School for Dance, the Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet School.
In 2011-12 and over the course of the Dance Track audition process, Birmingham Royal Ballet visited 18 affiliated schools in the south ofBirmingham and a further 17 affiliated schools in the north of the City and delivered workshops to over 2500 students. From these students, 320 were invited to ‘final’ audition days held at Birmingham Royal Ballet studios. Following the finals, in September 2012, 40 students from the south were selected to start classes atQueensbridgeSchool in Moseley and 40 students from the north started classes at The Lighthouse in Aston.
Pearl Chesterman, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director for Learning said ‘Dance Track continues to make the company accessible, ballet enjoyable and careers in dance achievable, regardless of background, social, economic or religious beliefs. Some former students now train full time at top ballet schools or study dance regularly with associate programmes. Talent and passion shines through, and by discovering dance many young people from across the City now engage in the arts with more confidence and enhanced communication skills. Not only does Dance Track open participants’ eyes to ballet but also their families, teachers and friends. We are extremely proud of the successes and achievements of Dance Track and thrilled the initiative has huge benefits to individuals, families and the wider community involved’
Melissa Porter, Relationship Manager, Arts Council England said ‘Since 1997 Dance Track has enabled young children from across the city of Birmingham to access ballet classes and enjoy performances, something they would not ordinarily get a chance to do. Arts Council England believes that great art should be accessible by everyone and Birmingham Royal Ballet is helping us to achieve this with their Dance track programme’
One notable success of Dance Track is the story of 11 year old Jakob from the Canon Hill area of Birmingham. Following ballet tuition with the programme, Jakob secured a place at Elmhurst School for Dance. He is about to finish his first term at the school. Jakob’s dance story began in 2007 when he was just 6 years old. His talent shone out immediately when Birmingham Royal Ballet staff visited his primary school, King David’s in Moseley, Birmingham. After two years with Dance Track, his natural facility for dance, flexibility and musicality enabled him to successfully audition for the Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associate programme. During this time he continued to attend weekly classes with Dance Track plus and performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome andLondon’s O2 arena.
Other former Dance Track students have gone on to Elmhurst School for Dance, The Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet School.
The success of the Dance Track programme has helped create a new initiative, Dance Track plus. This initiative supports the training of Dance Track students for a further two years as they move on to associate programmes such as Elmhurst Associates or the Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associates. Weekly classes take place at the Birmingham Royal Ballet studios, facilitated by former Company dancer Rachel Hester. For the current 2012-13 Dance Track plus class there are 20 students, 13 are in their first year of associate programmes and 7 in their second year of associate programmes. Dance Track plus student ethnicities for the current 2012-13 cohort are 60% Caucasian and 40% from Black and Minority Ethnic groups.
Dance Track is supported by generous donations from charitable trusts and foundations. Supporters play a vital role in funding the work of Birmingham Royal Ballet, including small and large-scale schools and community programmes like Dance Track, the creation of new classical ballets and dancer welfare, injury prevention and research.