YOUNGSTERS from across Swindon gathered to watch a special demonstration from The Royal Ballet School yesterday.
A total of 275 pupils from six primary schools visited Swindon Dance to learn more about ballet as well as watch demonstrations from final-year Royal Ballet School students and younger scholars from the School’s nationwide Junior Associate Scheme.
Eight-year-old Lizzie Gray, from King William Street CofE Primary School, was among the pupils who enjoyed the visit.
Lizzie, who started dancing ballet, modern and tap earlier this year, said: “I think it’s quite impressive the senior student could lift the girl student. I thought they were very beautiful.”
The demonstration came as part of an initiative where Year 3 pupils from the six schools spend six weeks working closely with teachers from The Royal Ballet School’s Dance Partnership and Access Programme, discovering ballet through a carefully-designed series of creative dance workshops.
Eight-year-old Danny Robins, from King William Street CofE Primary School, was also impressed with the demonstration.
But he was not inspired to become the next Billy Elliot despite footballers using dance to improve their physique and strength.
Danny said: “I thought it was amazing because I thought they were very strong and he lifted the other girl. It was nice.”
Joanne Porter, Year 3 teacher at King William Street CofE Primary School, said: “I thought it was very good. It kept the attention of the children really well and I thought it was great they brought a male senior student along which inspired some of the boys, too.”
It is the sixth year that The Royal Ballet School has worked in partnership with Churchfields Academy and Swindon Dance to bring the event to Swindon.
Year 3 pupils from Churchfield’s feeder schools – Lawn, Oak Tree, King William Street, Mountford Manor, Drove and Lainesmead primary schools – were invited along to take part in the event.
Katie Ballard, dance education and development co-ordinator, said: “The day as a whole went really well.
“Just to have the Royal Ballet School here again has been wonderful as was to have all the schools along for them to see where ballet could take them.”
The visit was part of The Royal Ballet School’s primarySTEPS programme, which engages more than 2,000 young people throughout England each year around the country.
Pippa Cobbing, primary school co-ordinator for The Royal Ballet School’s Partnership and Access Programme, said: “I think it went really well.
“It’s always fantastic to see the children’s faces when they see students who are only a couple of years older than them performing expertly the things that they have been learning. And also to see the seniors and get a sense of the whole journey they could make with The Royal Ballet School.”
At the end of the six-week course, 25 of the most talented pupils will be invited to further their new-found skills by joining weekly primarySTEPS classes, hosted by Churchfields Academy, for up to four years.
The young people taking part will receive their training from teachers specially approved by The Royal Ballet School.
After the four years, the aspiring young dancers will be advised on how best to continue their dance training and some may be invited to audition for The Royal Ballet School’s highly regarded Junior Associate programme.