Paul is a 17 year-old dancer from Glasgow who has successfully gained a place on the BA Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He started Transitions in 2013 at the age of 14. He had only been dancing for a year, training on Scottish Ballet’s Associates programme. He was in second year at high school but had just finished the equivalent of primary 7 level Junior Associates work, meaning he was in a huge skills deficit to other people of his age. He was not sure that ballet going to be a possible route for him because he needed much more training to be ready for undergraduate study.
Kerry Livingstone, Head of Scottish Ballet’s Associates programme and the BA Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, suggested Transitions to Paul as a way to catch up with other dancers his age. Access to extra training was not financially feasible for Paul, so the funded training and support provided by Transitions has been a crucial part of his journey towards the BA Modern Ballet.
‘It’s really made it possible that I’m able to study at RCS. It has helped a lot with the actual tuition mainly. It really has made a huge difference and made it all possible. It was hard, but you just sort of accept it and work even harder, and this year (2015/16) was the year that I caught up with people my own age. The teachers were great about it as well, they were really supportive in helping me out whenever I needed help.’
Paul attended a school with no dance provision, something common in Scotland. His school had little to no involvement in his dance development, but he made no secret of his dancing aspirations. Although Paul enjoyed school, by the time he was in third year at RCS he started to see people in his class leaving and joining the BA programmes and other vocational schools, and that made him want to leave school and go into full-time ballet training.
‘Although school was great and everybody was really supportive, it really wasn’t for me. I would rather be somewhere where everybody has similar passions, because although everybody was really supportive, they couldn’t really get their head round it.’
Paul used to turn down opportunities to socialise on Friday nights because he had dance class the next day, which often left friends bewildered by his commitment to attending so many different classes, whether they were at Scottish Ballet or RCS.
‘I’ve had assistance with performance tickets which is great because you get to see what you’re aiming for, and you come into class the next day and you work really hard to get there. I used the performance tickets to come and see the graduation show at the RCS and it was really nice to see the students you see about in the studios all the time for the classes actually dancing and because quite a few of them are Associates and I knew them from then it was really good to see how much they had improved and I really wanted to get there and get as good as them.’
He is not worried about the transition into undergraduate life because of what Transitions has done for him.
‘I feel pretty prepared for undergraduate study. I’ve been going to RCS every week for the past few years, so going there full time every day is just like the next step. Associates is the route, but I wouldn’t have achieved it without Transitions, it’s definitely played a huge part in my training.’
The RCS was not the only institution that Paul applied for. Paul also auditioned for the Northern Ballet School, Tring Park School of Performing Arts, the Central School of Ballet and the Royal Ballet Upper School. He was offered four undergraduate places in total, but he decided that he wanted to continue his dance training at undergraduate level at the RCS.