News: Celebrating ten years of National Dance CATs

Tuesday 28 October 2014 by Carmel Smith

Molly Walker & Jacob Lang in Rudolf Laban's 'Green Clowns', recreated by Alison Curtis-Jones. Molly and Jacob are alumni of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, at the tenth anniversary celebration of the CAT scheme, October 2014  Photo:© Jane Hobson.

For ten years now, nine Centres for Advanced Training in dance have been identifying and developing exceptional young dance talent across England and last Tuesday, dancers who have taken part and representatives from the organisations operating the scheme took part in a celebratory event at St Martin in the Fields, London.

The scheme operates in nine organisations across England: Birmingham (DanceXchange); Ipswich (Dance East); Leeds (Yorkshire Young Dancers at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in partnership with Northern Ballet); two organisations in London (London Contemporary Dance School * at *The Place in partnership with National Centre for Circus Arts and Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance); Manchester (The Lowry); Newcastle (Dance City); Nottingham (Dance4) and Swindon (Swindon Dance).

Since the Centres for Advanced Training scheme began in 2004, an impressive 94% of the 543 students aged between 10 and 18 years who completed courses have gone on to further dance training and many of them are now working in professional dance companies in the UK and Europe.

The Centres for Advanced Training are funded by the Music and Dance Scheme, a small, highly-specialised scheme within the Department for Education providing means-tested fee support and grants to children from low-income families. It represents the top of the pyramid for performing arts education and training and is the Government’s main vehicle for funding the training needs of such children and young people.

Professor Veronica Lewis, Principal at London Contemporary Dance School, The Place, said: “Over the last decade, it has been really exciting to see the growth of the Centres for Advanced Training in raising the standard of pre-vocational training, geographical reach and diversity of styles. Through government investment in a means tested scheme we have seen the quality and diversity of young people improve vastly so that they can now compete with students from all over the world for the best vocational training in England and beyond. This in turn means the scheme’s alumni are already contributing to the cultural life of the UK and Europe as dancers and choreographers.”

David Ledger, for example, was talent spotted through a workshop delivered in his school by Northern School of Contemporary Dance as part of Yorkshire Young Dancers, Centre for Advanced Training. He went on to train at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and is now dancing with Netherlands Dance Theatre 2. “Being involved in a Centre for Advanced Training scheme was an experience which really shaped the rest of my career and life,” he said.”Prior to this experience I had never really encountered dance at any level, and especially would never have envisaged it would become my career. And I can definitely say that I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without the work of the Centre for Advanced training schemes.”

Tom Jackson Greaves was awarded a special additional prize in the first year of the New Adventures Choreographer Award and is now working as a dancer and choreographer. An alumni of the Trinity Laban Centre for Advanced Training scheme, he went on to train at London Contemporary Dance School. “I really valued my place on the Centre for Advanced Training and travelled up from Cornwall to London every week to attend classes and take advantage of all the opportunities on offer,” he said. “During my time on the scheme I worked with a number of professional choreographers including artists from Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance.”

The tenth anniversary celebration at St Martin in the Fields was attended by supporters from across industry, education and Government, including guest speakers Helen Goodman MP, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, and TV presenter Jon Bentley, whose daughter is a CATs alumna now training at Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

More on the CATS scheme

Photos: Jane Hobson

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