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Principals who weren't accepted at WL


Happymum
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I need a few examples of British (or trained in Britain) past or present principal dancers/first soloist who weren't accepted at WL or even at RBS US but still managed to be highly successful dancers. I need it for uplifting talk with my DD and thought I'll ask you before I start to get through all the info on ROH or ENB website. I'm sure you knowledgeable people can help and mods please feel free to change the title if it doesn't make sense - it's late.

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Oh happymum, reading between the lines, I'm guessing you and your dd are having an unsettling time. Of course, there are a lot of ballet dancers in this country that attended RBS (VERY few who actually go through WL AND US) but there are just as many who had a more 'colourful' route. She has to stay mentally strong, focused and work extremely hard. Also learn to cut out other people's 'chatter'. I am always in awe of the utter rubbish that some dance students spew out as fact. Have a lovely Christmas break together and I am sure you will find lots of information to reassure your dd.

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Nancy Osbaldeston, currently a Demi-soloist at Royal Ballet of Flanders and previously a prominent First Artist at ENB, trained at ENBS.

 

I would say, however, that some dancers who attend upper schools such as ENBS, Elmhurst etc have previously attended White Lodge for a while.

 

I assume that this question relates to female dancers who have largely or wholly trained in the UK. There are of course many female dancers in UK companies who have trained abroad until 15 or 16 and then come to the UK upper schools.

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Kizzy Matiakis, nee Howard and an Essex girl, dances with the Royal Danish Ballet and didn't go to WL, possibly from choice.  I believe she was almost wholly trained by Leo Kersley and spent a brief time at the Central School.  Not only is Kizzy mastering the art of dancing silently in the Bournonville roles, she is also a shining example of the fast disappearing English style.

 

Not sure if she is a soloist or principal, but she certainly dances principal roles, such as the lead in Nutcracker I saw her dance a few years ago.  Here is a link to an interview with her where she talks about her role in a new production of Folk Tale.  Scroll down for the more personal details of her career and the difficulties she has overcome:

 

 http://www.theballetbag.com/2011/05/18/interview-with-royal-danish-ballet-kizzy-matiakis/

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Really interesting article MAB. Thank you. 

 

Happymum, without wishing to put a dampner on any dreams I think that' just' getting a contract with a ballet company (in any position) is a massive achievement in itself. I personally know of dancers who were assessed out of WL or not even accepted, who went on to have very successful classical ballet careers in Europe and the UK . But it takes a lot of determination and resilience and there are often a fair few no's before that coveted 'yes'. X

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Happymum, without wishing to put a dampner on any dreams I think that' just' getting a contract with a ballet company (in any position) is a massive achievement in itself. I personally know of dancers who were assessed out of WL or not even accepted, who went on to have very successful classical ballet careers in Europe and the UK . But it takes a lot of determination and resilience and there are often a fair few no's before that coveted 'yes'. X

Completely agree.

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Good luck with talking this through with your DD. You might also talk about the very wide range of dance-related training (often to degree level), which leads to careers in dance that are not the "straight arrow" of RBS to RB to principal.

 

That career is the very very very small minority. There are many many more careers in dance to be pursued in this country:in contemporary dance (look at the work of Akram Khan or Russell Maliphant - I think anyone would want to dance that work), Or the important work of dance therapists, or dancers in the community, or as contemporary dancers/teachers/choreographers. And many many more (only had one cup of coffee so far so can't think of them!)

 

I don't know the age of your DD, and OF COURSE you don't have to say (protect anonymity etc). But from my experience teaching undergrads in the creative arts, they come to us from school with very limited ideas about what the discipline I teach involves. And very narrow ideas of their future working involvement in the profession. THey've generally had a limited exposure to the art form, ad mostly in its most commercial/conservative forms.

 

We spend most of the first year breaking down these barriers, to help them to see the wide wide world of possibilities they've entered by studying with us at degree level. And by graduation time, they are astounding in the breadth of ideas, innovation, entrepreneurship, making their own opportunities - very much changed from the b=narrow notions of the profession they had at 18.

 

And the great thing is, they don't feel that these are second best to the dreams they had of being the equivalent of principal artist (in my field) at the RB.

 

It's a big wide world of art, and maybe exposure to some powerful dance that is not the RB would be a really helpful addition to her education if she's not already seeing a range of different dance styles. THere are many small-ish companies who tour regionally, doing workshops etc along the way.

Edited by Kate_N
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Thank you all for your replies. When my DD comes home for Christmas (very soon!!! Hurray!) we will have a read together about the dancers mentioned above.

And just to add - my DD is very very happy at her school (was always her favourite!) She is loving her ballet lessons and can't wait to start having more hours in New year. She had a moment of being worried (or "life not being fair") that her chances are smaller than those at WL - but that's so not true - all is down to hard work, dedication, passion, talent and a bit of good luck :-)

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Tierney Heap at Royal Ballet, was at Elmhurst I think initially.

 

My DD's teacher who was a soloist with ENB went to Elmhurst lower school, then ENBS upper and had a successful career with the company. Now teaches vocational and associates students.

 

I am sure there are many others who have not gone through WL and been successful classical dancers. Also, remind your DD that not all WL students continue to upper school, some decide dance no longer for them, some unfortunately get assessed out, and some will not get into the upper school there. And there are students who train at different lower schools then get into the upper school. For example I believe last year students from Tring were successful getting into upper school etc.

There isn't just one path, as we hear time and time again.

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