Touring with one of the UK’s leading ballet companies, and performing the work of a legendary choreographer on one of the world’s most iconic stages, is a dream come true for dance students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
The professionals in training at Scotland’s national conservatoire – one of the world’s top three performing arts education institutions – have been invited to dance in Scottish Ballet’s Stravinsky season which opens in Glasgow this Friday (October 6) before touring to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.
In another thrilling move, the students will follow in the footsteps of ballet’s leading lights when they grace the stage of the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.
It promises to be an exhilarating experience for the students, who have just entered their third, and final, year of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Modern Ballet programme, which is delivered in partnership with Scottish Ballet.
Five students – Zara Brent, Jaimee-lee Camkin, Jake Davies, Bryony Robertson and Anna Williams – will perform in a new production of The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la fée) to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of the visionary choreographer, Dunfermline-born Sir Kenneth MacMillan.
The Fairy’s Kiss, which uses Stravinsky’s original ballet score, reveals the darker depths of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Ice Maiden. It is part of Scottish Ballet’s Stravinsky season, which also includes The Rite of Spring, choreographed by Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet CEO and Artistic Director.
As well as performing to audiences all over Scotland in The Fairy’s Kiss, the production will be part of a landmark festival celebrating the influence and legacy of MacMillan.
Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration will bring together Scottish Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Yorke Dance Project at the Royal Opera House between October 10 and November 1. Each company will perform one of MacMillan’s one-act masterpieces.
For almost a month, the entire third-year cohort of 11 students have been rehearsing daily at Scottish Ballet’s home at Tramway, working closely with the company and Christopher Hampson.
Kerry Livingstone, Head of Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said:
“Working with Scottish Ballet over the last few weeks has been an amazing experience for our third-year dancers. They’ve been immersed in professional life, from taking morning class with the full company to rehearsing their roles in The Fairy’s Kiss. It has given them a phenomenal, and invaluable, industry insight.
“It is an honour to be part of Scottish Ballet’s Stravinsky season and such an exciting event at the Royal Opera House. There aren’t many dance students who get the opportunity to perform a MacMillan piece with a national company at one of the world’s most famous venues – it’s something that they will never forget.
“Creating professional opportunities for our students is a key element of the curriculum at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The three-year BA Modern Ballet programme is designed and delivered in partnership with Scottish Ballet and students work with the company, and internationally acclaimed teachers and choreographers, throughout their studies.”
Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet CEO and Artistic Director, said: “We are proud of our partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and are thrilled to welcome some of the third year BA Modern Ballet students, who will perform on stage with Scottish Ballet’s professional dancers in The Fairy’s Kiss this autumn.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to experience everything that is involved in being a professional dancer and I am sure it is an experience that they will take forward with them and will benefit them in their future careers.
“Scottish Ballet will perform on the Royal Opera House stage for the first time ever as part of the MacMillan festival. It will be an amazing experience for both our dancers and the Conservatoire students to perform at such an iconic venue.”
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student Zara Brent, 20, said: “It’s wonderful to be going on tour with Scottish Ballet and dancing at the Royal Opera House. I’m so excited and feel so lucky. It has been so inspirational to work alongside the professionals of Scottish Ballet – they’re all incredible dancers.”
Student Jaimee-lee Camkin, 18, said: “Working with Scottish Ballet has been fun, definitely challenging and such an invaluable learning experience. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, it’s so exciting. I can’t believe it!”
Student Jake Davies, 18, said: “It’s unbelievable to have the chance to dance at the Royal Opera House when we’re still in training.”
Student Anna Williams, 18, said: “Being around the professionals lets you see where and how you need to progress and it has been so interesting to see how they work. The whole experience has been fantastic and it will really benefit us when we start our auditions next year.”
Student Bryony Robertson, 18, said: “We have been taking company class every morning before going into rehearsals for the rest of the day. It has been a great insight into the professional world, seeing how a production comes together.”
Photo credit: RCS/Julie Howden. Pictured from left: Anna Williams and Jaimee-lee Camkin.