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By Pamela Owen, Reporter

Newbury Today

Fri, March 20 2009



NEWBURY’s very own Billy Elliot has changed the face of dancing at a private school – by proving that dancing is for boys. Chris Scott, aged 18, has led a dance revolution at Bradfield College by getting more boys involved in dance and a recent survey has shown that the activity is now second in popularity to football.


The former Park House School pupil won an academic scholarship to the sixth form at the college and was asked by headteacher, Peter Roberts, to do something in return. So the aspiring dancer and former Berkshire rugby player, decided to start up a dance class and with the support of local dancing teacher, Michele Legg, has changed the face of dancing.


He has also broken 150 years of tradition and was made the first Head Boy at the independent boarding school who was not a member of the school’s cricket, hockey or football teams.


Chris, who gave up playing rugby to pursue his dancing career, said: “I recognised the opportunity to start something special at Bradfield and I was very grateful for the chance to do my own thing.


“You can imagine with boys of my age, stepping away from serious rugby towards dance could have been seen as a dubious move, but I never had a problem.


“I thought that by coming to a private boarding school, I would be called names for dancing and the boys were certainly skeptical to begin with but I would say the biggest impact that I have had on the school is making dance acceptable for boys.


“They just need a little push and then they get hooked and, in fact, once the boys really get into it, they are generally far more committed than the girls.”


With few dance facilities at the school and only a few girls involved in ballet, Chris, who took an A Level in dance, decided to host auditions to start a dance company at the school. Only 20 pupils, mostly girls, auditioned but less than a year later sixty pupils have auditioned – many of them boys. Now it is cool to dance at Bradfield College and a number of star players in the football and cricket teams are taking part in semi-professional dance companies started by Chris.
According the Arts Council the number of children choosing to study dance in Britain’s schools has risen by 83 per cent in four years and a third of those are boys. It is also thought that shows like BBC 1’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s Dancing On Ice have made the activity more popular.


And many schools across West Berkshire are now making dance a compulsory part of their curriculum and Chris’ old school, Park House in Andover Road, boasts one of the finest dance studios in the district.


England and Leicester rugby player Tom Croft was one of the first pupils to take a dance GSCE there and a number of other male pupils, including Will Llewellyn, have ended up dancing for some of the countries most established dance schools like Rambert and the London Contemporary Dance school.


Head of dance at Park House, Sue Llewellyn, said that dancing among boys has been growing in popularity for a number of years. She said: “The number of boys taking up dance in the school really changed after Tom and Will did it.


“It has grown in popularity and we have four boys this year going on to dance school who are all good in other areas, like playing rugby.”


Bradfield headteacher Mr Roberts added: “Dance not only improves overall fitness but it helps bring out the creative side in boys.
“In this school it is now cool to dance.”



© Copyright 2009 Newbury Weekly News



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