RCS ballet graduate leaps into new role at Scottish Ballet and makes professional stage debut in Starstruck
A Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate will make her professional stage debut this month as the newest member of Scottish Ballet.
Urara Takata graduated from the BA Modern Ballet degree programme in July this year and leapt straight into a coveted role at Scotland’s national ballet company.
Urara will step out for the first time with Scottish Ballet in the highly anticipated UK premiere of Starstruck, which opens on September 23 at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal before embarking on a Scottish tour.
The three-year BA Modern Ballet course at RCS is designed and delivered in partnership with Scottish Ballet. Students work with the world-renowned company throughout their studies and often join the company on tour. Past performances include Cinderella, Wee Hansel & Gretel and the Stravinsky season, which saw students take to the stage at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.
Joining Urara in Starstruck will be RCS ballet students Finlay Watson, Pablo Dorado Calderon and Daisuke Sakai who have been rehearsing with Scottish Ballet since June.
In collaboration with Gene Kelly’s widow, Patricia Kelly, company CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designer Lez Brotherston have lovingly revived the iconic dancer and actor’s Pas de Dieux for Scottish Ballet’s long-awaited return to the stage. It’s set to Gershwin’s Concerto in F, with extracts from Chopin, recorded by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Following the tour, Starstruck will have its world premiere on screen on November 26 as Scottish Ballet’s second feature-length film.
Born in Osaka, Japan, Urara began dancing at her local dance school at the age of three. At 16, she auditioned for Escola de Dança do Conservatório Nacional in Portugal. In 2019, Urara was awarded the position of first soloist at Victoria Ballet Company in Canada. In 2020, Urara auditioned and transferred to the second year of the RCS ballet course.
Commenting on Urara’s Scottish Ballet appointment, Kerry Livingstone, head of Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We are so pleased for Urara and wish her all the very best for her professional career and her debut this month in the UK premiere of Scottish Ballet’s Starstruck.
“We’re also delighted that Finlay, Pablo and Daisuke will also perform and tour in the production. Our partnership with Scottish Ballet not only offers invaluable industry insight and experience but exclusive performance opportunities for our dancers.
“It’s wonderful to see our students and graduates achieve at such a high level, despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented. We have delivered in-person teaching and assessment throughout, under strict safety guidelines, to support continuity of teaching and learning.”
Interested in finding out more about the three-year BA Modern Ballet programme at RCS and how to apply? Visit the ballet webpage for more info.
We caught up with Urara ahead of her professional stage debut:
How does it feel to join Scottish Ballet?
I was working towards a goal of being part of Scottish Ballet when I was a student – I am so happy to have become a member of this dream company and to be rehearsing with amazing dancers!
Can you describe the first few weeks in the company?
I have been taking classes and rehearsing with senior members, and the directors have given me sincere advice. Everything I have experienced so far in the company is very exciting and satisfying for me. I am surprised by how fast these few weeks have passed! I also feel very comfortable in the company because all the dancers and staff are very friendly; it was easy to get used to this new environment.
How are you enjoying rehearsals for Starstruck?
It’s a jazzy style of performance that is totally new for me, so it is very fun to dance and I am always excited in every rehearsal. Moreover, the mixture of its profound story, music and choreography strongly fascinates me. I am glad to engage in this valuable ballet work.
What made you decide to study at RCS?
I wanted to learn ballet at RCS because I was so impressed by its great environment and dedicated teachers when I took part in a summer course three years ago. Another deciding factor was the wonderful performances of Scottish Ballet, which got me absorbed in the company – I had a strong desire to join them. Then I was attracted to RCS, which produces such great dancers, and that helped me decide that I wanted to learn in the conservatoire.
How important is the professional partnership with Scottish Ballet – what opportunities did it offer?
This partnership gives lots of meaningful opportunities to students. For example, graduate year students can gain valuable experiences such as performing Hansel and Gretel with Scottish Ballet. What’s more, dancers of the company often visit classes at RCS to give lectures. I appreciate that they gave me those great opportunities.
Even though there were some events that we couldn’t carry on as usual due to COVID-19 over the last couple of years, I was still able to learn so much at RCS.
How did RCS prepare you for the profession?
RCS supported us to make our job hunting go smoothly, from helping us work on our CVs to advising on how to take a video for auditions. The teachers also took the time to give thoughtful advice if we had questions and shared information about auditions of ballet companies all over the world. They even gave us the opportunity to have a simulated audition, which was very helpful for us.
What were your highlights during your studies?
We had many opportunities to perform, including Piano and Dance, solos evening and the online graduation performance. I have an especially deep attachment to the graduation performance – we rehearsed again and again to achieve a high quality of performance as students aiming for a professional ballet career. The bonds between classmates were strengthened and the sense of accomplishment that I felt was greater than I could have imagined.
What are you looking forward to most over the coming months?
I am looking forward to performing on tours around England. I have never experienced touring so can’t wait to take our performances to audiences in various places! More than anything, I am glad to perform as a member of Scottish Ballet. I will keep putting all my effort into practice to give the best performance every time.
Starstruck tour dates:
Theatre Royal Glasgow (23–25 September)
Eden Court, Inverness (30 September-2 October)
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (7-9 October)
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (14-16 October).
The running time of the show is one hour, with no interval. Book tickets at Scottish Ballet.
Tickets for the Starstruck feature film are on sale from October.
Urara Takata images © Andy Ross