Dance student secures coveted place with English Youth Ballet

A dedication to dance has led to a dance student to securing a place with the English Youth Ballet and on an advanced training course at Dance City in Newcastle.

After passing a stringent audition and interview, Olivia Richardson, a Year 9 student at Richmond School, is now training at Dance City three times each week and, following an audition with the English Youth Ballet, is due to perform with the company alongside professional principal dancers at the Darlington Hippodrome next year.

Olivia, 14, from Hudswell, has been dancing at Janet Seymour’s School of Theatre Dance since she was five and continues to take part in classes there four times each week.

She takes classes in grade 6 ballet, intermediate ballet, tap, contemporary, body conditioning, progressive ballet technique, modern and musical theatre.

In total she has 11 classes each week, dancing for more than 16 hours after school and at weekends.

In addition, Olivia is training with a pointe-work specialist in New Zealand on Zoom every Sunday evening.

Olivia’s favourite discipline is ballet and her ambition is to be a professional dancer.

Olivia said: “I love ballet as everything is done in a certain way, it is very disciplined, so you have to concentrate your mind and think very carefully about technique.  You have to remain 100 per cent focused, your mind can’t wander and you need a lot of self-control.

“I am really enjoying Dance City as the teachers there are professional dancers who have experience of leading productions in the West End and Broadway.

“I also enjoy dancing with like-minded students who really want to dance and are not just there for fun.

“I cannot thank Janet Seymour enough for all the support and direction she has given and continues to give me. She has really encouraged me and I gain so much from her classes.

“I also support Janet by helping out with younger students in a pre-primary class to pass on my knowledge and experience and develop my mentoring skills.”

Alongside her dancing with Dance City and Janet Seymour, Olivia dances and takes part in performances at school.

She plans to study GCSE dance before heading to Dance College.

She has already done some research and is considering the Centre de Ballet in London, Rambert Ballet and Dance City.

Danni Fox, lead teacher of dance, said: “It is just brilliant to see Olivia being so proactive in developing her dance training with professional opportunities and experiences. We usually get the Northern School of Contemporary Dance to come into school to provide a workshop for selected students to scout for their CAT scheme, but unfortunately we were unable to do this this year due to the pandemic.

“So the fact that Olivia has gained a place on this scheme with Dance City at her age is phenomenal! It is the best experience and training she can have in contemporary dance to prepare her for training at higher education too.

“It is also testament to her skill and dedication that she has achieved a place with the English Youth Ballet. What fantastic opportunities for her.”