Everyone enjoys dancing, whether it is just shuffling your feet and waving your arms around in time to music or whether it is the more complex movements of Ballet, Ballroom, Modern, Tap or Jazz. It is also a valuable and enjoyable form of exercise, so when an economic downturn threatens a dancer’s participation in the more complex forms of dance something needs to be done to preserve the schools giving lessons to our dancers in these dance forms.
What if a parent lost their job or had their hours cut so they can no longer afford lesson? What if a child’s parents got divorced? Could you continue paying dance tuition fees at your local dance school? Typically these are only a few pounds per lesson, but it is quite possible that those pounds could become just too much and your child will have to stop dancing. If too many children have to stop dancing the very ability of the dance school to stay in business could easily be called into question. In a typical school if just 20 children stop dancing the school will lose on average £100 per week. How long will they be able to sustain that kind of loss?
What if the English Youth Ballet (EYB) comes to your area and your child is successful in their audition? The cost of taking part is £385 that must be paid within 3 months. For many this is not a problem and the experience and training the young dancer will get is worth far more than the money, but in these times of escalating prices and declining incomes that extra commitment might just be beyond the reach of some parents. Why should an obviously talented child be denied the opportunity to partake in what is an extraordinary experience? Many of the dancers who are successful in auditioning for the EYB go on to successful auditions at the specialist schools and all get the stimulus to enjoy their dancing at a higher level.
The fees of the elite schools of The Royal Ballet School, Tring Park School for the Performing Arts (formerly Arts Educational School, Tring Park), Elmhurst and The Hammond are beyond the reach of most people. The Royal Ballet school’s fees are just over £30 000 per annum, though all pupils from the European Economic Area will get a Government assisted place through the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS) awards. Tring Park charge just over £25 000 per annum and are also part of the MDS scheme but the number of awards are limited. Elmhurst’s fees are just over £20 000 per annum and they are also part of the MDS awards scheme on the same basis as Tring Park only having a limited number of awards at their disposal. The Hammond school is in the same position.
All of these schools, apart from The Royal Ballet School, as well as other 16+ schools are part of the Dance and Drama Award scheme (DaDA) for tuition beyond GCSE level. All of the schools have a very limited number of awards they can grant and the award only covers tuition and not all accommodation. The details on the Government website will show you how much you have to contribute as a minimum and will emphasise the absolute need for the Ballet Trust. Even with a DaDA many extremely talented dancers who have previously been getting an MDS award could see their careers come to a shuddering halt because their parents cannot afford the fees. Taking Tring’s fees as an example. Parents with an income of less than £21000 will have to find a minimum of £1 226.33 per term to continue their child’s education through sixth form. In contrast, under an MDS award they would have had to find about £260 per term. Could you afford the extra £3600 per year if it were your child?
If your child is good enough to get into these schools, but not able to get a scholarship their dreams could be shattered before they have even started. For some they can get started, show exceptional talent and still have their dreams shattered after GCSEs, although there are other options that make this less likely.
Once The Trust gets going fully by contributing a nominal amount of £10 per annum you not only gain peace of mind that your fees can be met, but that you could just be helping to keep your dance school in business or helping the next superstar to realise their dreams and ensure they get the right training. Who knows, that might be your child.