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Ballet and Bursaries
Robert Harrold points the way
hese days ballet training can be a very expensive business, especially for
anyone who wishes to follow it seriously as a career. Not easy. You need a
Tcapacity for hard work and dedication.
As the dancer progresses, and various grades are taken, then a once a week class
is insufficient. Some teachers coach their pupils every day or several days in the
week. When it comes to major work and a higher age level reached, Intermediate,
Advanced 1 and certainly Advanced 2, it is difficult to gain without full time
study. The dancers (also teachers and parents) face one big challenge; this is
where full time colleges take over.
There are several excellent bursaries that can help towards training, but these are
very competitive and sought after. Taken in the right spirit they are twofold: an
experience and a challenge. First in the season is the ISTD Stella Mann Bursary,
generously supported by the founder and director of the Stella Mann College
which produces excellent work. The bursary is open to girls only, between 15
years and under 18 years and holding an ISTD Intermediate classical ballet or
above. Based on a class and no solo, this year 16 dancers competed. The winner
Eilish Harmon-Beglan, a former ISTD senior ballet scholar, now joins the very
imkpressive list of dancers. The very handsome award goes towards further train-
ing. Each year, Stella Mann, now 97, attends the competition, first started in 1987
in gratitude to ISTD Classical Ballet and to encourage young students. Recently
Stella Mann was honoured at the Austrian Embassy by Dr. Andreas Mailath-
Pokorny, City Councillor for Cultural Affairs and Science of the city of Vienna,
with the Decoration of Merit in Gold of the City of Vienna, the city’s highest hon-
Another popular bursary is the Phyllis Bedells Bursary, also held in March. Pre-
sented by the RAD, it is a tribute to Phyllis Bedells, the first English ballerina and
famous teacher. Scores of dancers trained with her, PB boys and girls could be
found in companies world wide. The Bursary was created in 1979 to help develop
young talent, something that she encouraged in her teaching career. This year 30
dancers entered,
several had trav-
Laura Day and
Photo: Robert Harrold
elled from Italy,
Matthew Astley
Cyprus, Indone-
sia, which cer-
tainly showed a
keen and dedicat-
ed approach.
Dancers have to
be under 17 years
and have passed
the RAD Ad-
Eilish Harmon-Beglan
vanced 1 with
Distinction, so
establishing a School of Ballet, Elmhurst, English National Ballet School or Northern Ballet
high level of School. The dancer, either boy or girl and between 16 and 19 years, is already on
work. As in all his or her way. Named after a lovely student at London College who was sadly
awards at this lev- killed in an accident, this award was created by her parents as a tribute to her. This
el the dancers like all the other awards has helped so many dancers.
have a class plus The Molly Lake Awards, which are open to dancers from any dance organisation,
a solo presenta- take place every other year; the next will be in 2010. Open to dancers who are liv-
tion. The bursary ing and training in Britain is the Young British Dancer of the Year. Out of 99
of £1,000 was young dancers who entered this year, 16 were selected for the finals. The winner,
divided this year Yasmine Naghdi from the Royal Ballet School, rleceived £3,000, and second
between Matthew place went to Sean Bates, last year’s Phyllis Bedells winner, who received £2,000.
Astley, 16 and a Third was Dominic Whitbrook with £1,000, both from the Royal Ballet School
student at White and only 16 years old. A special award went to Brandon Lawrence for a student
Lodge, Royal showing potential, who with Sean Banes shared the 2008 Phyllis Bedells. Interest-
Ballet School, ing as gradually through these competitions a steady progression is made.
and Laura Day, Some of the really big ones such as the Prix de Lausanne, are open to the world.
only 15 years and This year 192 dancers applied aged 15 to 18. From their dvds 73 were selected
also at White and then only 20 for the finals. The artistic director Wim Broeck said “first and
Lodge. 11 boys foremost it is a learning process, with accent on learning, observing and discover-
entered and very ing”. This goes for all competitions at any level, from local through to the impres-
good they were sive Prix and the RAD Genée International Ballet Competition. A top winner said
too. Matthew had “you enter for the experience and also for the enjoyment of dancing”.
been a semi final- Let’s not forget, too the very first international competition, the Varna Interna-
ist at last year’s Young British Dancer of the Year. “It’s all a great experience” he tional Ballet Olympiad, inaugurated in 1964 and held biennially, the next to take
said, “you lean a great deal from enterint”. The list of past winners is so impres- place in July 2010. Dance Expression reports direct from Varna, where there are
sive, so many names now with the Royal Ballet, English National and other com- two sections, the senior section for adults up to age 26 who are already members
panies here and overseas. of a professional ballet company, and the junior section for full time students aged
A smaller bursary is the Baines-Hewitt Award in association with the Gordon Ed- 16 to 18. Lauren Cuthbertson, principal of The Royal Ballet, won Silver in the
wards Charitable Trust. The prize of £500 is for a dancer who holds an ISTD In- senior section in 2006; let’s hope there are more contestants from the United
termediate or above, and who is now a student at the Royal Ballet School, Central Kingdom next year.
Page 42 DANCE EXPRESSION July & August 2009
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