2018 marks the 21st anniversary of Dance Track – Birmingham Royal Ballet’s talent identification programme aimed at training young dancers aged from six to eight. The project endeavours to identify and train young participants showing a potential for ballet. This year, Dance Track has enjoyed record levels of success, with more pupils being accepted onto vocational ballet school associate programmes than ever before.
Dance Track has grown swiftly since its first programme in 1997, with 52 schools across north, south and central Birmingham participating in the programme in 2018. Every year, 2500 children take part in a talent identification workshop at their primary school. Subsequently, 80 children who show a natural talent for ballet are invited to join the Dance Track programme. These children, who often wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to participate in dance, are given free weekly ballet lessons taught by Birmingham Royal Ballet staff, as well as free uniform and ballet shoes.
Following their free ballet training, talented Dance Trackers are given the opportunity to apply for both the Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst Ballet School associate programmes. These special programmes provide children with more advanced training to refine their dance technique and are the first step on the long journey to become a professional dancer.
This year, the young applicants have enjoyed tremendous success with seventeen dancers joining the Elmhurst Ballet School Associates, five dancers joining the Royal Ballet School Junior Associates and a further four on the waiting list for a place.
From Harborne to Handsworth, and Selly Oak to Sparkbrook, Dance Track could one day discover the next star of Birmingham Royal Ballet right in the heart of its home city.
Rebecca Brookes, Dance Track Programme Manager, commented: “2018 has been a phenomenal year for the Dance Track programme and our celebrations over the last two weeks have been a huge success; testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our passionate teachers as well as the parents and students themselves. Dance Track changes peoples’ lives. We aim to reach out to all areas of Birmingham and offer a unique experience, not only teaching ballet, but skills and discipline for all aspects of life. We are really proud of our Dance Track programme and the opportunities it provides.”