Earlier this week I had the pleasure of visiting Wellington College in Berkshire, the mixed independent school where polymath Dr Anthony Seldon (who also writes acclaimed political biographies and directs plays among much else) is in charge. His staff describe him as a “creative power house” and he’s certainly transformed the arts in general and the drama in particular in the school since his appointment in 2006.
Anyway, more of all this on the training page in The Stage very soon. Meanwhile I want to tell you about one Wellington College initiative here because the deadline is fast approaching and if you’re a young dancer (or the parent of one, perhaps) needing help with training you need to know about this immediately.
Wellington College is running a community dance competition this June. The top prize is a £5,000 bursary for a talented young dancer aged 18 or under. “The drama department wants to make a commitment to help this performer further his or her career — and we want to maintain an ongoing relationship with the eventual winner by supporting them in any way we can,” Sarah Spencer, Head of Drama, tells me.
Interestingly, the money for this bursary has been raised by the drama department through its Community Drama Programme. Among other projects Spencer and her colleagues run Curtain Call, dance and drama classes for local children and teenagers aged 6 and over, on Saturday mornings. The nominal charge for this is £70 per term (with informal subsidy arrangements for those who struggle to pay) but the school provides all the facilities and resources without taking any of the income. For the last four years money thus generated has been used to fund an annual four-day residential summer school for young people from Kids Company.
This year some of the money raised is also being used to fund the dance bursary.
Spencer is keen to stress any dancer aged 18 or under - “Yes, anybody from anywhere” she says, telling me that she has phoned every school for miles - can apply to audition for the dance competition. Auditions are being held in the Wellington Theatre at Wellington College on 26 February. Contact Sarah Spencer SPS@wellingtoncollege.org.uk for more details.