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Dancers dazzle Dagenham pupils as they get expertise from Royal Ballet School

PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 September 2019

Students from the Royal Ballet School working with pupils at Dagenham Park primary school. Picture: Dagenham Park School.

Students from the Royal Ballet School working with pupils at Dagenham Park primary school. Picture: Dagenham Park School.

Dagenham Park School

Almost 400 primary school children have been treated to displays of artistry and athleticism by students from the Royal Ballet School.

The final-year dancers went to Dagenham Park School to show their skills first-hand as part of the Primary Steps programme. The Year 3 pupils, between seven and eight years old, then got the chance to try the movements and positions themselves.

"Primary Steps is important because it offers access to a creative art form that is not on the national curriculum," said the Royal Ballet School's Primary Steps' manager, Pippa Cobbing. "How do you know you're good at something until you are offered the opportunity to try it?"

As well as those from Dagenham Park, pupils at William Ford Junior, Marsh Green, Beam, John Perry and Godwin primary schools are also taking part.

"For many children it is the first time they have encountered this important art form," Ms Cobbing added.

The event on Friday, September 20, isn't the end of the programme, which has been running in Dagenham for 14 years. Pupils will now spend the next five weeks working with Royal Ballet School teachers in a series of creative dance workshops.

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At the end of those five weeks, the 28 most talented dancers will be chosen for weekly training for up to four years.

After that, they will be advised how to continue their dance training. Some might even get the chance to audition for the Royal Ballet School.

Caroline Watkins co-ordinates the programme in Dagenham and is head of dance at Dagenham Park, School Road.

"I feel privileged to have gained the opportunity to be part of such a rare and very special programme these past 14 years," she said.

"[It] has brought generations of children and their families a unique insight and chance to learn and become passionate about ballet."

She added that previous Dagenham pupils have won places on the Royal Ballet School's prestigious Junior Associate programme. One of them, Tadiwa Chiimba, performed at the demonstration on September 20.

Children have even moved on to the White Lodge, the Royal Ballet's boarding school, where young dancers take up full-time training.

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