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Tag Archives: Elmhurst School for Dance

By R. Whitehouse
The West Briton
May 13, 2015


Morgan Wright, 10, has earned a place at Elmhurst School for dance this September (The West Briton News) 2015[Cornwall, England] – A young ballet dancer from St Agnes has been selected for a place at a prestigious dance school. Morgan Wright, 10, has been given a place at the Elmhurst Dance School which is a centre for professional ballet and an associate school of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The youngster said he was looking forward to taking up his place at Elmhurst and taking the next step towards becoming a professional performer.

Morgan has been training and performing since the age of five with Jason Thomas Performing Arts based in Truro, and has been developing his dance skills a across a number of disciplines such as contempary, classical ballet, street dance and musical theatre.

He has already performed at local venues such as the Hall for Cornwall through to Sadlers Wells London and competed in regional and national competitions.

Morgan Wright, 10, will attend the Elmhurst School for dance this September (The West Briton News) 2015It was two years ago with Jason’s guidance that Morgan discovered and auditioned for the Elmhurst Associate Programme in Plymouth and has been attending lessons every Sunday being taught by Miss Lyndsay.

In addition Morgan got the chance to complete several intensive weekends at Elmhurst the purpose built ballet school where he made the decision that it was his desire to further his skills and experience.

He will spend three years starting from September honing his craft with some of the best teachers in the business, the classes are led by professional practitioners and they focus on developing performance skills, teamwork, confidence and self-esteem to take that next step in performing.

Copyright © 2015 Local World




By Gaby Bissett
Hertfordshire Mercury
April 17, 2015


William Davolls, 11, with his dance teacher Caroline Crowley (Hertfordshire Mercury) 2015[Hertfordshire, UK] – A schoolboy has been selected from hundreds to earn a place at a top dance school. William Davolls, from Watton-at-Stone, has earned himself a place at Elmhurst School of Dance in Birmingham – an opportunity that costs £30,000 per year to fund. The 11-year-old, who attends St Joseph’s Primary School in Hertford, is one of just six children out of 1,000 youngsters who auditioned for places.

The dance school works in partnership with Birmingham Royal Ballet, which William has dreamed of performing with all of his short dancing life.

He has been offered an aided place at the dance school, which are allocated to the most talented children and significantly reduce the cost to parents”.

Disciplined William follows a strict routine of getting up early each day to do his stretches to prepare for the day ahead. He said: “It means the world to me, really. Well, the universe. It’s hard when you first wake up but over time you get used to it.”

William has been ballet dancing since he was six years old and has worked hard to become one of the best

His mother, Ronya, who works as a teacher, said: “I am really proud of him because he works extremely hard. He is up at 5.30am every single day and he stretches each day before school. He even stretches when he comes home regardless of whether he has a lesson or not. He has had to make that decision on his own. He loves to dance. He dances everywhere, he leaps through Sainsbury’s when I do my shopping.”

William attends Carter School of Dance four days a week, which is based in Hertford’s The Sele School. It trains around 200 young dancers in the area.

The director of the school, Caroline Crowley, said: “I just think he’s absolutely fantastic. He has worked very hard and is a very talented young boy and it’s the right place for him to go because he has such an enormous talent. It’s an amazing opportunity and it’s very, very competitive to get a place, they’re like gold dust.”

She added: “It’s the perfect school for him because the training will be excellent and the ethos of the school will suit his personality.”

Copyright © 2015 Local World

Oscar,11, Arlie, 6, and Marlo, 8, Kempsey-Flagg (The Independent) 2014

With three sons, the Kempsey-Faggs might not have imagined that dance would feature in their family life. But all of them have been talent-spotted and selected for elite training. And there’s nothing girly about it.


By Jenny Hudson
The Independent
July 14, 2014


[London, England] – It started with a letter that Oscar Kempsey-Fagg brought home from school. He had been spotted during a school workshop run by Birmingham Royal Ballet and was invited to attend an audition. His parents were intrigued. “Ballet wasn’t on our radar,” recalls Oscar’s father, Joe. “Although we wouldn’t have been consciously against it, we wouldn’t have really thought of taking the boys to ballet lessons.”

Each year, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) runs workshops in schools across the city with more than 1,500 children aged five and six. Approximately 200 are invited to audition, with around 60 being offered free, professional ballet tuition on a programme called Dance Track, which aims to identify children with potential to become dancers. At least half of those chosen will be boys. Oscar was selected and subsequently so, too, were his two younger brothers. Now, despite having no previous links with ballet, Jane and Joe Kempsey-Fagg have a whole family of ballet-dancing sons and dance has a central place in family life, opening up new possibilities for the boys.

While ballet classes are a routine part of childhood for many girls, boys can find the classes off-putting. “Often, in ballet classes for that age group, the class will be full of girls and the activities geared around them, such as running around being fairies,” says Rachel Hester, a Dance Track teacher. “The boys don’t want that and you’ll lose them. We made a conscious decision to have white shoes and blue tops on Dance Track. There is no pink.

“At first, I don’t use the word ‘ballet’ – I talk about dance and movement and challenge them to see who can jump the highest and furthest. I give out gold medals because boys like that competitive element.”

After his first year with Dance Track, Oscar was selected to join a smaller group for another year then, at the age of eight, won a place on the prestigious Royal Ballet Junior Associate scheme, a three year elite training programme for eight- to 11-year-olds with the potential to become professional dancers. At the same time, it was the turn of Oscar’s younger brother Marlo to take part in a workshop at Colmore Junior and Infant Schools, which the boys attend. He, too, was selected for Dance Track.

“It isn’t unusual for siblings to be selected,” says Rachel. “When we see children at the age of five and six, a lot of what we are looking for in children is the physical facility for dancing. We are looking for natural ankle flexibility, the ability to turn the hips out naturally, very straight legs, co-ordination and, particularly in boys, the ability to jump. The Kempsey-Fagg boys have ‘magic feet’ – they are physically perfect for dance, as well as having great musicality.”

As well as the rounds of lessons, the boys would regularly see performances by BRB and the Royal Ballet, being given free tickets as part of their training schemes. They talk knowledgeably and enthusiastically about whether they prefer classical or modern styles of ballet. If some people express surprise at the place of ballet in a family of boys, their parents feel it all fits perfectly.

Arlie, 6, Oscar,11,  and Marlo, 8, Kempsey-Flagg with their parents (The Independent) 2014

“The boys race BMX bikes competitively,” says Joe, an architect, who is 42. “I suppose that might seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum to ballet, but you can see that their ballet helps them in terms of their balance, strength and stamina. They do all the ‘boys stuff’ – they are out in the garden, making ramps for their bikes and climbing, then they will go on the trampoline and practice their ballet. It’s all part of the mix.”

Not surprisingly, many of the boys who are selected for Dance Track also excel at sport. Several on the ballet programme have also been selected for academies run by professional football clubs. “You imagine that if ballet is up against football on a boy’s schedule, it might seem inevitable which one they will choose,” says Rachel. “But it’s not always the case. When classes clashed for one boy recently, his mum told me he was desperate to keep up ballet, so his coach allowed him to come to football training late.”

The way that boys see ballet does seem to be changing, fuelling a new interest in participation. In March 2014, the London Boys Ballet School was established by James Anthony. “It was clear that more boys wanted to try ballet, but there was nothing for them,” says James.

“They would be lucky to find a ballet class with just one other boy taking part and the image would be very pink and fairy-like.” Creating boys-only classes, focusing on strength, jumping and athleticism, the number of participants at the new school quickly grew to more than 30 with ages ranging from four to 14.

“Many of the boys want to try ballet after watching a performance – not only Billy Elliot but other musicals featuring dancing, or seeing dance shows on TV,” says James. “There is certainly less stigma around ballet – it is recognised as a foundation for all dance forms and for its athleticism.”

The footballer Rio Ferdinand, who trained in ballet, and the street dance crew Diversity, are influential figures who have praised the benefit of the discipline for boys. And at the highest performance level, Balletboyz, the company formed by former Royal Ballet lead dancers, is shaping the re-branding of ballet from a male perspective.

Equally now, if boys do express an interest in ballet, they are more likely to be supported by their parents. “This generation is different,” says James. “Dads are proud to bring their sons to our ballet classes; there is no sense that ballet is ‘girly’.”

If the Kempsey-Fagg brothers do ever hear occasional comments that ballet is “not something for boys”, it is not off-putting. When considering this, Marlo quickly fires back, saying: “Ballet is awesome.” Beaming with pride, he adds: “I’m the only one in my class who is in it.” Like his older brother, Marlo, now aged nine, won a place on the Royal Ballet’s Junior Associate programme and has just completed his first year. His younger brother Arlie, six, has recently also been selected for Dance Track.

Oscar has just taken a major new step with his ballet, having been awarded a scholarship to attend Elmhurst School for Dance, the internationally renowned associate school for Birmingham Royal Ballet. “I am so proud of them,” says Rachel.

© 2014


Related Articles:

London Boys Ballet School attracts budding Billy Elliots

Birmingham Royal Ballet brings the joy of ballet to city children


Striving to become the next Darcey Bussell or Wayne Sleep takes hours of dedication, determination – and heavy financial investment. Emily Woodrow speaks to five young Welsh dancers with a dream to succeed in the ballet world and discovers the major sacrifices that they and their families have made.

Read more: Blood, sweat & blisters





Shea Lindley, 11, jumping for joy after being offered a place at  (Scuntghorpe Telegraph) 2014


By Simon Leonard
The Scunthorpe Telegraph
June 22, 2014


A Scunthorpe [North Lincolnshire, England]ballet dancer has been accepted into a top school. Shea Linley, 11, from Bolingbroke Road, has gained a full-time place at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham. The Kimberley Performing Arts Centre (KPAC) student will start in September.

His mum, Emma Linley, said she was sad to see him go, but wanted Shea to follow his dreams. She said: “It is a senior school, but it is boarding. He has been awarded a full five-year scholarship worth over £130,000. I am heartbroken he is leaving, but I have to let him follow his dreams. We need to put our feelings aside.

“Since October last year, he has auditioned at four top elite boarding. One day he wants to be in the West End.”

Kim Gribben, who runs KPAC, said: “He joined a few years ago, I said he had potential. He has done really well, he’s a really hard-working, young man.”

Elmhurst guarantees three years of studying before assessments, unless there are any drastic issues, such as injury.

Shea got down to the last 15 boys at the Royal Ballet School in Leeds, but was pipped at the post.

He auditioned for the Leeds school in November last year. Shea secured a place at the Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associate Class in Leeds in 2012. Of the 432 young dancers who auditioned for the elite class – which is the only one of its kind in the country – Shea was one of only 15 students selected. Shea began his lessons in September 2012 and has been making the journey to West Yorkshire every Saturday for a two-hour 15 minute class.

Elmhurst is a professional classical ballet school and an associate school of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. It is the oldest vocational ballet school in the UK, preparing its students for professional careers in ballet and related dance style. Through the auditions process, students are selected according to their perceived potential and their commitment to dance.

Copyright © 2014 Local World


Read more about Shea: Nine-year-old ‘Billy Elliot’ gets Royal Ballet School place

Lewis Bartholomew, 10, has been accepted for a place at the Elmhurst School of Dance (The Shropshire Star) 2014-03

The Shropshire Star
March 27, 2014

Lewis Bartholomew, 10, has been accepted for a place at the Elmhurst School of Dance (The Shropshire Star) 2014-01[Shropshire, England] – Lewis Bartholomew has been accepted for a place at the Elmhurst School of Dance in Birmingham. The nimble-footed 10-year-old was one of ten youngsters from around the world to win a spot at the school.

The Welshampton Primary School pupil, who goes to the Market Drayton School of Dance, will start his scholarship in September.

His mum, Rhiannon Bartholomew, said: “When he opened the letter he was so happy. He has worked hard and he deserves it. His dream is to travel the world as a principal ballet dancer. He was one of just ten chosen from around the world, including Hong Kong and Australia. It is a very prestigious school in terms of ballet.”

Mrs Bartholomew said her son had been dancing at the Market Drayton School of Dance from the age of two-and-a-half.

His mum said dancing runs in the family, including her two other sons, eight-year-old Oliver and six-year-old Isaac, as well as her daughter, Lowri, who is 12. “It’s been a family thing. I am an ex-dancer.”

Lewis’s other hobbies and interests include skateboarding and watching Star Wars.

 Lewis Bartholomew, 10,  has been accepted for a place at the Elmhurst School of Dance (The Shropshire Star) 2014-02


Youngster has won a place at  Elmhurst School for Dance

By Kate Stenhouse
Nottingham Post
July 16, 2013

Matteo Rollini, 8, has been accepted into the Elmhurst School for Ballet  2013

[Nottingham, England] – When dancer Lesley Rollini had three sons, she never dreamed that one day one of her off-spring would be following in her foot steps. But her son Matteo, eight, took up the hobby just over a year ago and has already proved himself to be a budding Billy Elliot – landing a place at the Royal Ballet in Birmingham.

Mrs Rollini, founder of the Lesley Rollini School of Dance in West Bridgford, said: “Matteo has only been dancing with me for just over a year; he actually started with gymnastics and then he decided that dance was what he wanted to focus on.”

She added that despite her dance background, Matteo hadn’t always shown an interest in dance. “He started when he was very little, I took him along when he was about three to my little ones class, but I could tell he wasn’t focused and he didn’t really want to do it, so I didn’t pursue it.

“It was only as he got older, seeing his brothers build up, he wanted to do the same, and he’s the type of body shape for gymnastics, and they took him straight away and there’s some dance rhythm in gymnastics and he just started to enjoy it.

“Now, he asks to come along to all my classes, even my private ones.”

Matteo received top marks in his Royal Academy of Dance exams and has now been offered a place at the Elmhurst School for Ballet, in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, one of the major UK ballet companies.

Matteo will be taking up his place in September and will be balancing it alongside school at St Edmund Campion Catholic academy, with school during the week and ballet classes at weekends.

Matteo said: “I’m used to doing both and I prefer dancing anyway.”

In May this year, the Post reported on another of Mrs Rollini’s pupils, 11-year-old William Smith, who achieved a place at the Northern Ballet Academy.

Mrs Rollini said: “This is amazing and, for me, it’s a double whammy as it’s not only a pupil it’s also my son, and only having three sons, I never thought I’d get this.”

Mrs Rollini’s school is one to watch as her other up-and-comers seem set for stardom. She said: “I’ve got a little boy who comes to classes who will have to wait to audition next year because of his age, he’s only been with me a couple of months.

“I’ve got some beautiful girls, too, I’ve already approached parents about them. One girl, she’s beautiful and she’s one of those dancers that takes your breath away. Her mummy said to me, ‘you’ve changed my daughter, she now wants to dance for a career’.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

Related Article: A remarkable young dancer has won a scholarship to the Northern Ballet Academy


Luke Spring, a tap-dance prodigy, takes the national stage

By Rebecca Ritzel
Photograph by Melanie Burford
The Washington Post
July 19, 2013

Luke Spring,10,placed third at the NYCDA competition (Melanie Burford) 2013

The future of tap dancing in America may rest on the small shoulders of a four-foot-tall, 52-pound, 10-year-old boy from Ashburn [Loudoun County, north of Washington, D.C.].

Luke Spring is a YouTube darlingwho is even more astonishing in person. Locally, he has been impressing the dance and theater community since 2010, but his fame has since rocketed to New York stages and national TV. Luke’s four-year career got another boost earlier this month, when he placed third in the Mini Division (for 7-10-year-olds) at the New York City Dance Alliance’s National Outstanding Dancer competition. Had the competition just been just tap, Luke would have won, wingtips down.

Read the Entire Story:

© 2013 The Washington Post


Teenager awarded scholarship to Performers College

By Elizabeth Mackley
The Swindon Advertiser
July 25, 2013

Joey Goodwin,17, has won a scholarship to Performers College 2013[Wiltshire, England] – A teenager is taking his next step towards realising a childhood dream after winning a scholarship to a prestigious dance school. Seventeen-year-old Joey Goodwin is celebrating after finding out a chance audition last month has won him a place at Performers College in Essex.

“You always hope something is going to come out of an audition but it was a huge surprise,” said Joey, a student at the Judith Hockaday School of Dance and Drama. Originally I wasn’t going to audition this year; at the last minute I thought I would audition just for a bit of experience. Then I found out they wanted me and then they gave me the scholarship. It was a bit of an accident really.”

Joey competed against 80 other dancers during a gruelling day of auditions including a physiotherapy assessment, classes in ballet and jazz, singing and drama as well as an interview.

Now after winning the government funded DaDa scholarship, awarded to about 30 students at the college each year and which will pay for all his school fees, Joey is preparing to start the three-year course. He will continue to develop his tap, ballet, and modern dancing skills as well as drama and singing and taking part in numerous performances.

He said: “I’m very excited, nervous, but excited, and it’s all getting a bit closer. My dream is to be on the West End in a West End show, but anything to do with theatre and performing is what I want to do.”

Joey said: “I just want to say a big thank you to Miss Hockaday, she’s been absolutely amazing and without her none of this would have happened.”

Joey who lives in Oakhurst, started dancing when he was five years old learning Latin, ballroom, and street dance. When he was 11 he took up ballet, which is now his favourite style. Ever since then he has been working his way towards his dream of becoming a professional dancer.

As well as training eight hours every day in school and carrying out his own workout at home, Joey also teaches throughout Swindon and Oxfordshire.

Judith Hockaday, principal at the dance school in Old Town, said: ”I am really pleased. He’s a nice boy too and he’s worked really hard. He’s done an amazing amount since last September. He will be a really nice teacher too.”

© Copyright 2013   Newsquest

By Zoe Chamberlain
The Birmingham Post
March 1, 2013

Jakob Myers, 11, working hard in ballet class 2013[Birmingham, England] – Talent spotted by Birmingham Royal Ballet, an 11-year-old boy from inner city Birmingham is hoping to carve out a career as a dancer.

Jakob Myers is a real-life Billy Elliot. He was an ordinary seven-year-old from Balsall Heath, with older siblings who worked as a mechanic and a hairdresser, when he was plucked from everyday life and put into ballet shoes.

Birmingham Royal Ballet teachers came to his school, King David Primary in Moseley, to run a workshop – and instantly spotted they had a ballet star on their hands.

Three years on, the 11-year-old has danced in front of 7,000 people a night at the O2 in London in BRB’s production of The Nutcracker and is attending a world-renowned ballet school, [Elmhurst School for Dance].

His mother Jackie, 49, who is a carer, says: “I’m really proud of Jakob. It’s not often that someone from round here takes up dance, so I think it’s brilliant.”

Following the school workshop, Jakob was invited to audition at BRB’s studios and went on to become one of just 80 children selected to start weekly classes at Queensbridge School [a performing arts college] in Moseley.

Through a BRB education project called Dance Track, potential ballet stars like Jakob are given a free two-year programme of ballet training and mentorship to prepare them for auditions at the best ballet schools in the country.

Jackie says: “When he first came home saying he’d been asked to audition for the programme it was a complete shock, as I’d never realised he could dance. Music was always playing in the house when he was growing up and he plays violin and piano, so he can keep time, but he didn’t sing or dance. I said he should do it because it was something different to the break-dancing and street dancing.”

And so it was that Jakob’s life took a turn so very different from that of his siblings – his brother Daniel, 29, is a mechanic, Nathan, 27, works in sports science at a university and his sister Sian, 21, is a hairdresser and support worker.

“I don’t think his siblings would have wanted this opportunity – Jakob is completely different to them,” says Jackie… “But everyone contributes to Jakob, whether it’s fetching him from school and helping to buy his shoes. They’re really pleased he’s been able to do it. They love going to watch him.

“He loves it and that’s what matters. The dance teachers said they saw something natural in him which was strange to us. “His dad said as long as he kept up with his school work he was happy for him to do it.

“Jakob has never been sporty, so it’s nice he does this now. We just managed to fit it in after school alongside his music lessons. Jakob knew what he had to do to keep going to ballet classes, so he worked really hard at school too. He’s very determined.

“His primary school friends took it in their stride. They never teased him or anything. He carried on playing football and doing normal things at school.”

Jakob Myers in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Nutcracker 2011Jakob’s “bright lights” moment came when he performed as one of the children in BRB’s The Nutcracker, first at Birmingham Hippodrome at the end of 2011 and later at London’s 02.

“When I saw him on stage in The Nutcracker, I couldn’t believe it,” says Jackie. “It was brilliant. He was up there dancing his little heart out. I was so proud but I didn’t want him to know when I was coming to a performance. I wanted him to focus on the job in hand rather than looking out into the audience and trying to find me!”

Jakob found the experience both daunting and exhilarating. “It was scary at the Hippodrome at first but I got used to it,” he says. “And, after I got used to it, we performed at the O2 and it started all over again! It was quite different from class. I had to know where to stand and how to dance with props.

“I got on really well with the BRB dancers Brandon Lawrence and Kristen McGarrity. They made me feel less nervous and we had a lot of fun.”

Dance Track is a BRB educational programme designed to give young people access to ballet where they wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity. “When Dance Track first came to our school I took to it straight away,” says Jakob.

According to Pearl Chesterman, BRB’s director for learning, the ballet company teachers can instantly spot if a child has the potential to be a dancer. “When we go into schools, we’re looking for posture, physical ability and concentration,” says Pearl. “With some you can identify that as soon as they walk through the door; with others it comes out during the workshop.

“Some of the children come in a bit hesitant to start with, as do their mums and dads. It’s about confidence building, team building, about working with each other.”

In Billy Elliott, a film about a young boy with a passion for dance, the father doesn’t like the idea of his son dancing until he sees him in action. “We get that all the time,” says Pearl. “But we’re actually finding we generally have a 50/50 split of girls and boys taking part. “There’s one class of Year 3 and 4 children where there are actually ten boys and only six girls, which is really lovely. In these instances, the boys’ competitive nature really comes out.

“It’s about giving the children another perspective to their world, a way of meeting new people from a different background to them. Some of their teachers have said it’s given the pupils more focus, too. They’ve found they have concentrated better in school after taking part in the ballet classes.

“It also brings families together to celebrate their child’s successes and be excited for them.”

Dance Track has run since 1997, and students come from a wide range of white, black and minority ethnic groups, irrelevant of their social and economic background. Pearl says: “I don’t think anyone realised the longevity of the programme when it first started. It’s really consolidated in the city now as people really start to know about it. Originally it was in the south of Birmingham but now there are workshops and classes in the north, too.

“It’s great because it means children from places like Aston, Handsworth and Lozells can take part, too. It’s wonderful to be able to work at the Lighthouse in Aston which has such fantastic facilities. It helps to make the children more focused than simply doing their classes in their school hall.

“It’s about far more than dance.”

Every year BRB need to raise £90,000 to pay for their Dance Track initiative, which works with 40 primary schools and more than 2,500 children.

Encouraged by his BRB mentors, Jakob auditioned for a place at Elmhurst School [for Dance], a world-renowned classical ballet school in Edgbaston. Jackie says: “When Jakob went for his audition I was more terrified than him! “He takes everything in his stride but he knew if he wanted to go he’d have to stand out from the others.

“When the letter arrived he ran up the stairs, saying, ‘It’s a big envelope, not a small one’. Then he opened it and said, ‘Yes! I’ve got in’.”

Jakob is now a day pupil at Elmhurst, which is also a boarding school. He’s often there 12 hours a day, and does ballet classes every day alongside a full academic programme and other dance classes. He was given a full scholarship to attend, and is one of eight boys in his class of 20.

Jackie says: “He’s always been artsy but I’d never have imagined he’d end up at a private dance school. The schools by us aren’t that brilliant, so it’s really good he’s at Elmhurst. He has just done well in his SATs. It’s not too far from us. We usually walk it in around 15 minutes.

“Jakob wants to be a professional dancer but we’re keeping his feet on the ground by encouraging him to have something to fall back on, like teaching dance perhaps.

“Ballet has helped him to become more focused and disciplined.”

As far as Jakob is concerned, the future holds just one vocation: “I want to be a dancer. Definitely!” he says emphatically, and with that he’s off to another class.

© Copyright 2013  Trinity Mirror Midlands Limited

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