One of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama’s key aims is to increase and secure access to training for the most talented students regardless of their background. In order to achieve this, the Conservatoire strives to improve public awareness and understanding of vocational, conservatoire-level training in dance, drama and circus arts. The examples listed below are only a sample of the many programmes and activities that the Conservatoire schools offer.
In addition to these, a crucial component of the Conservatoire’s policy of access and widening participation is its commitment to auditioning every applicant who meets the individual school’s criteria. This means that over 10,000 individuals are seen by the Conservatoire schools each year during the auditioning period for around 450 places and in some 19 different centres including cities in Japan, Spain, Switzerland and Italy, as well as London, Bristol, Leeds and New York. This remains a central pillar of access to Conservatoire programmes.
Advanced training programmes
These are focused programmes that aim to improve the quality of pre-vocational training and prepare students for conservatoire-level study. Financial support is available to students who qualify for the scheme through audition. This support is means tested and based on parental income.
- London Contemporary Dance School runs a Centre for Advanced Training based at The Place, which currently has 75 students from London and the South East. Approximately 50% of The Place’s CAT students live outside of greater London. The programme is open to all children between 10-16 years regardless of previous dance training. Each participating family is means tested so families only pay fees according to their means.
- Website and CAT prospectus: http://www.theplace.org.uk/454/about/about-cat.html
- View the video below for clips of recent performances by CAT students.
- Yorkshire Young Dancers, based at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, has 38 students of whom 29 receive subsidy from across Yorkshire. YYD is composed of two strands: contemporary dance, for 13-17 year olds, which is based at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and ballet, for 10-12 year olds, which is based at Northern Ballet. Yorkshire Young Dancers was the first Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in the UK.
- Website: www.nscd.ac.uk
- London Youth Circus, based at Circus Space, is being run in conjunction with the CAT programme at The Place. It aims to provide pre-vocational training of the highest standard to 10-18 year olds, enabling young Circus Artists to access institutions for professional circus training. CAT scheme applications are open to current London Youth Circus students and students from other youth circuses in the UK. Places are means tested, as with the other CAT programmes.
- Website: www.circusspace.co.uk
Short courses and summer schools
Short courses and summer schools take place over a concentrated period of time and provide intensive training.
- LAMDA operates 8 full-time summer courses, which are open to both national and international students. In 2008 LAMDA welcomed 220 students to the summer school.
- Northern School of Contemporary Dance runs a free, week-long, non-residential summer school, with 40 places offered per year (with funding from Aimhigher).
- London Contemporary Dance School runs a boys only holiday project, ‘Hurricane’, for boys aged 10-14 years, with some concessionary places available. You can find more details about the project, and other summer activities for children at LCDS on the website: www.theplace.org.uk
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School offers week-long short courses in Classical Acting and Modern Acting, suitable for those aged 17 and above.
- For three summers running, RADA has hosted the Camden Summer University (CSU) drama project. The project is in partnership with Camden Council and is free to participants. It gives young people living in and around the borough the opportunity to experience an intensive week of training similar to that undertaken by RADA’s core course students. More information about CSU can be found here:
These are classes offered to children, young people and adults, often subsidised to encourage participation in the particular art form. They engage the wider community in dance, acting, circus skills and technical theatre. These classes offer students an opportunity to develop and progress to short courses, summer schools, other training programmes, and, ultimately, vocational training. Several hundred students attend weekly classes in the UK.
- Circus Space offers a range of weekly classes in circus skills for all ages, from 2 years 9 months to 18 years, all available at a concessionary fee for those who qualify. Adult and family classes are also available in disciplines such as acrobatics, flying trapeze and tightwire.
- Northern School of Contemporary Dance offers weekly youth and children’s classes, for age 7 years and over, at a reasonable fee with free-entitlement places available to the youth course.
- RADA offers Saturday workshops for young people age 16-24, offered at a concessionary fee for those claiming JSA.
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School offers adult evening classes in modern and classical acting, offering a limited number of free places to those unable to afford the fees.
These groups prepare young people to perform work, often specifically commissioned or adapted. There are four youth companies across the Conservatoire with around 200 participants.
- London Youth Circus has 100 students aged between 11 and 18 from across London. It offers courses at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, including supporting classes in movement, core stability and performance. Acceptance is by audition and subsidised places are offered. The advanced class performs annually.
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School offers a weekly youth group, ACTiv8 for 7-18 year olds. There are currently 80 participants, largely from the Bristol area.
- London Contemporary Dance School runs the weekly youth group ‘Junior Dance Club’, for 8-12 year olds with around 15 places per year. Priority is given to those living in the King’s Cross and Camden area, and subsidised places are available.
- RADA has a Youth Company provides access to drama training and performance opportunities for young people aged 16-20 who live in and around London. The company meets every Saturday and makes an annual commitment.
Student performance tours
The Conservatoire has three dedicated performance companies: Ballet Central (Central School of Ballet), Verve (Northern School of Contemporary Dance) and Edge (London Contemporary Dance School) all part of final-year, graduate or post-graduate programmes. These companies tour nationally and internationally and deliver workshops as part of the programme.
- Ballet Central tours to 22 venues nationwide, offering more than 25 performances. It reaches several thousand people with tickets are kept at a low price to ensure accessibility.
- Edge tours to around 20-25 venues nationally, reaching an audience of approximately 3500.
- Verve works with leading choreographers each year to produce at repertory that the company tours between February and July. It tours to 22 venues around the UK and in Europe.
In addition, almost all other schools tour either nationally or locally and offer specific student performances to primary and secondary schools and beyond. Tours travel to between 30 and 40 venues each year with total audiences of at least 20,000.
Images below left to right: Ballet Central 2012, EDge 2011, Verve 2011
Work with Schools
- Northern School of Contemporary Dance offers a free inset day to schools, for both new and existing teachers, to equip them with the skills to spot dance potential.
- The Principal of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance leads movement workshops once a week at a local primary school.
- The ‘RADA in Schools’ programme takes acting and technical students in their second year of study to work with young people in secondary schools. RADA youth workshops are offered to regional theatres and schools nationally.
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School runs a ‘Theatre in Schools’ programme, which focuses on Shakespeare and features workshops and performances. The programme takes place in 20 schools, as well as a theatre-base public performance.
- In December 2011, Central School of Ballet was able to officially launch its satellite school in Southwark, giving pupils in the borough access to free weekly dance lessons. The dance classes are running in partnership with three of Southwark’s primary schools, and are hosted each week at Alfred Salter Primary School in Quebec Way in Rotherhithe. To date 100 pupils are regularly attending the weekly classes which are planned to run during term time up to July next year.
Examples of other outreach activities
- Circus Space offers 3-6 month internships to enable participants to learn about arts administration, in addition to a week-long work experience programmes for 14-21 year olds.
- LAMDA holds an annual Technical Theatre and Stage Management open day, as well as free tours of the LAMDA site year-round.
- Central School of Ballet offers a variety of workshops in schools, colleges and community groups local to the communities where Ballet Central performs, both in London and throughout the UK. In 2010, 900 of these workshop places were free.
- Circus Space holds a 3-week long Easter Workshop Festival, featuring master-classes and intensive Workshops for adult circus artists from beginner to professional. The festival aims to encourage collaboration and experimentation and to introduce as well as develop a wide range of circus skills and disciplines.
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is working with the UWE Federation and local FE colleges to promote access to training careers. This project is aimed at encouraging young people to consider Higher Education and includes presentations on theatre career pathways.
- Over the last two years Circus Space has run five pilot projects engaging differing groups of elders in circus arts, with partnerships ranging from the Hackney Council Access Team, to Age Well, Recycled Teenagers in Peckham, to the Building Exploratory, and the Silver Festival in Southwark.
- RADA has been working with Lewisham College and City and Islington College to promote theatre training and careers.