There are in England nine Centres for Advanced Training in Dance ("CAT") which identify children and young people with exceptional talent for dance and develop them through contact with leading dancers, teachers and choreographers. One of the Centres is in Leeds and Mel and I attended its 10th anniversary gala and "decadent afternoon tea" at Northern Ballet's studios and the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre just under two years ago (see Coming Down to Earth Gently 30 June 2014). It was a glorious afternoon and much if not all the credit belongs to Hannah Bateman who was in charge of it.
Just across the Pennines, however, is another CAT in the Lowry at Salford in Greater Manchester. As you can see from the film that Centre does great work too. Like the other schemes the Lowry is
"a part time, pre-vocational course, providing access to high quality training and nurturing in dance to young people who have a passion for the art form and who wish to progress toward full time training."It is funded by the Department of Education and offers intensive training opportunities with professional dance teachers, choreographers and practitioners. Anyone aged between 10 and 16 may apply for the scheme and those who are accepted may stay until they are 18.
Students are expected to take between 10 to 14 hours of class a week which should include ballet, contemporary dance and creative workshops of which 3 hours should be at the Lowry. The instructors have glittering credentials. Paul Bayes Kitcher was a soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Rob Bell spent 15 years with the Dutch National Ballet. Students have worked with Akram Khan, Christopher Marney, Hofesh Shechter and many other choreographers and companies during their training.
Those who complete their training successfully proceed to vocational training at schools like Ballet West and Central. One of the programme's graduates is Isaac Bowry who impressed me with his performances as Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker (see Ballet West's The Nutcracker 25 Feb 2013) Rothbart in Swan Lake (see Swan Loch - Ballet West's Swan Lake, Pitlochry 1 March 2014 3 March 2014) and Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet (see Ballet West's Romeo and Juliet 1 Feb 2015) when he was with Ballet West. I am not sure where he is now but I snatched a fragment of conversation at a recent London Ballet Circle event when his name was mentioned with a commendation.
Fees appear to be £3,649 per year and parents with household incomes under £65,840 can qualify for grants. Those who want to find out more should call 0161 876 2018 or email CAT@thelowry.com.