17 year old ex-Heart of England student Jessica Lee has been accepted for professional dance training at one of Europe’s premier schools for dance training and education, Central School of Ballet (CSB) in London which in 2013 celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Jessica has been dancing since she was four years old. She recently completed her first term at CSB, one of only 39 pupils accepted for a place on this three year degree course, a BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Performance (accredited by the University of Kent). CSB is the only dance school in the UK to offer this unique qualification. Jessica was selected from 400 applicants who applied to CSB last year.
Entrance to CSB is through auditions which are held between October and March each year in London, Glasgow, Leeds, Italy and Japan. The process involves performing for the school’s teaching staff, all of whom are ex-professional dancers themselves. The course’s main focus is on Classical Ballet supported by Contemporary Dance as an additional subject, and also includes tuition in Choreography, Spanish Dance, Pilates, Jazz Dance, Drama, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Singing and Contextual Studies.
Before joining CSB on the degree course, Jessica was a student at the Heart of England School in Balsall Common . She studied dance at The Three Spires dance school in Coventry and Kate Simmons Dance Ltd in Warrington. Jessica also attended CSB Dance Days in Leeds and Manchester and completed the CSB Easter Course.
Jessica explains her progress so far at CSB: “I really enjoyed my first term at Central School of Ballet – it was hard work but fun too. We train at least six hours a day during the week and take classes on Saturday morning as well. You have to be dedicated to make it to the top of this profession but it’s my dream to be a dancer at one of the leading ballet companies when I graduate. The training is very challenging, similar to the training of the best athletes, but we are all motivated by the rewards of performing.”
Sara Matthews, director of CSB explains the competition for places at a dance school at this level: “Students typically join us aged 16 after GCSE. By this stage many of them will have been dancing since primary school. Only the most talented and dedicated students are accepted but ballet is no longer an elitist profession. 25% of CSB students are given some kind of financial assistance through the school to allow them to complete their tuition here. We have a long history of accepting students from a diverse range of social and economic backgrounds.”
During her final year Jessica will join the school’s touring company Ballet Central. Ballet Central’s annual nationwide tour will commence this year on 22nd March at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge. Touring with this unique student ballet company offers a professional performance experience that is not available through any other dance school on such a scale. Sara Matthews comments: “We are the only vocational ballet school able to offer our students an Honours Degree and this level of touring experience, indeed this year we were delighted to perform for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to sell-out audiences. Ballet Central continues to be a springboard for hundreds of dancers into the top international dance companies. Dancers live to perform so touring is a much anticipated part of our three year curriculum.”
Graduates from CSB go on to join the world’s premier dance companies. Recent CSB students are currently employed with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, National Ballet of Estonia, Ballet Black, Northern Ballet, K Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Slovakia Ballet. Singapore Dance Theatre, and many more.
For more information visit www.centralschoolofballet.co.uk and www.balletcentral.co.uk