Lucy paves the way for aspiring performers in groundbreaking arts education programme
A promising ballet dancer has taken a major step towards her ambition of becoming a professional performer thanks to a royal arts education programme that engages hundreds of school pupils throughout Ayrshire.
After receiving specialist tuition through the groundbreaking partnership between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House which offers progression opportunities to young people studying strings and modern ballet Lucy Gillespie, from Irvine, has become the first young performer to enrol at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Junior Conservatoire.
As part of the programme between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House, more than 700 primary and secondary school pupils receive arts tuition in Ayrshire schools and are eligible to audition for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The initiative offers children specialist education in music and dance and gives the general public the opportunity to attend performances by RCS students and local school pupils at the Palladian country house near Cumnock.
Lucy, 12, a pupil of Greenwood Academy, said: “I first started dancing when I was three and have been doing it ever since. It was my mum that first heard about The Prince’s Foundation’s partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at Dumfries House. They invited me to come along to a trial session and I ended up training with them for two years. I really enjoyed the classes at Dumfries House as they were very technical and helped me become a better dancer.
“Through the training I did at Dumfries House, I was invited to audition for a place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and I now train with them once a week. When I’m older, I’d love to be a professional ballet dancer and it’s my dream to perform in a big ballet production.”
Kenneth Dunsmuir, executive director of The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House, said: “The purpose of our link with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is to bring high-quality performing arts to the community surrounding Dumfries House, in terms of both performance and education. Lucy’s progress in the past two years is testament to the talent that exists among young people in Ayrshire and to the superb training offered by RCS. We hope her journey can serve to open the eyes of other local children to the many positives and possibilities offered by training and working in the performing arts.”
Home to the largest known collection of Chippendale furniture in the world, Dumfries House estate was saved for the nation by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, in 2007. It now operates as an events venue, tourist attraction and education hub, offering young people the opportunity to engage in learning experiences that promote confidence, personal development and training in real life skills. The Prince’s Foundation is now the second-largest employer in East Ayrshire, with more than 250 full-time and part-time staff across the house, estate and education and training programmes.
Lucy’s mother, Kirsty, said: “Lucy has been dancing since she was a toddler and has always loved it. It’s an expensive hobby, though, so we were delighted when she was offered subsidised training through The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House. It’s been a real eye-opener for us as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland simply wasn’t on my radar before but training with their tutors has opened up so many doors for Lucy. Before Lucy’s audition, we went for a tour of RCS and were blown away by their facilities. If she’s going to pursue a career as a dancer, I want her to have the best training possible. In addition to training with RCS, Lucy also continues to take classes with Dance, Dream and Inspire in Irvine.”
The Junior Conservatoire of Dance programme has been designed in partnership with Scottish Ballet and caters for students working towards full-time vocational training in dance, where they learn in small class sizes, ensuring they receive detailed and one-to-one and group teaching.
Kerry Livingstone, Head of Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Lucy, who is the first dancer to progress from our Pre-Junior Conservatoire of Ballet at Dumfries House to our Junior Conservatoire of Dance in Glasgow. The Pre-Junior programme is for young dancers who wish to develop their dance technique and Lucy showed great potential and commitment during her classes at Dumfries House. We’re delighted that she has moved to the Junior Conservatoire to develop her studies. The programme, designed in partnership with Scottish Ballet, is for 11 to 18-year-olds working towards full-time vocational dance training.”
Megan Peasgood, Junior Conservatoire Modern Ballet lecturer, said: “Lucy showed a true passion for dance and worked consistently over the two years at Dumfries House. It was a special moment when she was offered a place in the Junior Conservatoire, following her audition. She’s working well in her classes and recently enjoyed our annual visit to see Scottish Ballet’s winter production, where the students were given a backstage tour of the Theatre Royal in Glasgow an inspiring experience for those who aspire to be professional dancers.”
Those interested in the Pre-Juniors programme at Dumfries House and the Junior Conservatoire of Dance can download the current prospectus on our Junior Conservatoire section.