As soon as I started at sixth form, they began fast-tracking us towards university. What career do you want? What are you going to study? Where are you going to study? What steps are you taking now to make sure you get in? I’d only just managed to narrow it down to 4 subjects, and already they were asking me to pick one of them for what seemed like the rest of my life. I wasn’t ready.
I knew I wasn’t ready because my answers to their questions kept changing: I want to be a choreographer, a stage manager, an artistic director, a critic. I want to do dance, I want to do English Literature. I want to go to university, I want to do an apprenticeship, I want to do an internship. I want to go to Roehampton, I want to go to Laban, I want to stay living at home. Not to mention the daunting prospect of auditions which I felt so unprepared for.
I’d looked at universities, but the idea of committing to one thing for 3 years when I wasn’t even sure it was what I wanted to do felt like too much pressure. So, I began looking for one-year courses – only one year felt easier to think about. I say ‘began’ like it took me ages to find what I was looking for, but it was so simple that I knew it was the right decision. I googled ‘year-long dance course London’ and up popped Springs Dance Company and their training course.
I hadn’t specifically been looking for something Christian, but that just made it so much better. I read everything I possibly could on the website because I was so interested, I watched every video I could find on YouTube. It sounded ideal. I went to the summer school to see if I would like it, and I loved every second of it. I auditioned that week and got onto the Elevate Dance Foundation Course.
When it came to October of year 13, everyone around me was really stressed. People were going to open days, writing personal statements, trying to understand the UCAS website… And then they had auditions and interviews, at the same time as trying to revise for A Levels. Meanwhile, I felt calm. I felt really at peace with my decision not to go to university yet, and had a new sense of ‘everything will work out as it should’. In January I re-auditioned to get onto the full course (Elevate Dance Company), and was successful – which I was absolutely ecstatic about! Then all I had to do was complete my exams, and was relieved not to have the pressure of expected grades.
Since starting the course, and taking a gap year from education, I’ve learnt so much. I’ve learnt what the lifestyle of a dancer is really like, I’ve learnt how to move in a different way to before, I’ve learnt what commuting into London every day is like, and I’ve learnt how to have the confidence to give your everything in an audition.
The support from the girls on the course and the teachers has been better than I ever could have hoped, and through the course I’ve also grown closer in my relationship with God – something I know would have been more difficult had I gone straight to university. I look forward to dancing every day. After a while the next step of applying to dance courses at university, came so naturally. And what I’ve gained from this course – and am still learning – is so valuable. Now I feel prepared for university, and in fact feel like I’m a step ahead.