Royal Ballet dancers foster young talent through Chance to Dance programme
Dancers develop their teaching skills and encourage younger dancers through weekly classes and workshops.
13 December 2013 at 2.17pm | Comment on this article
Laura McCulloch, Ryoichi Hirano and Johannes Stepanek in the Arabian dance, The Nutcracker, ©Johan Persson/ROH 2010
Laura McCulloch, a Royal Ballet Soloist who was recently performing on the Main Stage in Romeo and Juliet, has a busy schedule. In addition to morning class, rehearsals and performances, she is also a dance teacher as part of the Chance to Dance programme.
After completing a course in Ballet Education Practice run by the Royal Opera House, during which she attended lectures and taught children in schools, Laura joined the Chance to Dance programme to increase her teaching experience. On the programme, she works within schools: covering assessments, creating lesson plans and learning to teach dance in a creative and imaginative way.
The Chance to Dance programme works with 30 primary schools across Thurrock, Lambeth and Southwark. Children are selected for their enthusiasm and aptitude for dance, and can join the programme for up to four years. Those taking part receive weekly classes and attend Royal Ballet demonstrations and practical workshops. Other Royal Ballet dancers involved in the programme include First Artist Nathalie Harrison and Soloist David Pickering.
‘The children on Chance to Dance could be our future dancers,’ says Laura. ‘So I feel a great responsibility when we are choosing them.’ When selecting children for the programme, the teachers look for qualities that include musicality, agility and a love for dance, not just young children who are ‘good at ballet’.
Jacob Tidmarsh from Lambeth is in his final year of the Chance to Dance programme. He now attends the Junior Associates at the Royal Ballet School on Saturdays, and has performed alongside The Royal Ballet this season in Romeo and Juliet.
‘Regardless of how far Jacob pursues dance, he has grown in confidence, developed further social skills and has gained an understanding of collaboration,’ says Andrew, Jacob’s father. ‘He has learned to value his creativity, and the benefits of being determined and tenacious. These skills will serve him at school and beyond.’
Each year, the Chance to Dance programme works towards an annual performance in which children appear alongside dancers from the Royal Ballet. Last year, the members of the programme performed The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Kristin McNally and Thomas Whitehead.
Are you a dancer who would be interested in training to be a teacher? Or a school teacher interested in the Chance to Dance programme? Find out more on our Chance to Dance page.
Generously supported by Mrs Lily Safra, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, MariaMarina Foundation, Marit Mohn, Orinoco Foundation, Marina Hobson MBE, Simon and Tracey Holden, Gonzalo and Maria Garcia, Eugene and Stephanie Leouzon, Atosa Moini, Raymonde Jay, Robin Vince, Sue Street, Katrin and Chritoph Henkel, Royal Opera House Endowment Fund, Thurrock Borough Council, Freed of London, Sue Sheridan and The Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Charitable Trust.