Sunday saw the London regional auditions for the 3rd annual GradPRO performance opportunity. The brainchild of Julie Bowers, who had spoken to us at a recent LBC In Conversation event, it aims to give students who have undergone at least three years vocational training to Company level the opportunity for further professional experience.

After some confusion as to how we were expected to access the Clore Studio at the Royal Opera House (for which we apologise to our members and guests) it was clear that the 50 or so of us were in for a treat as we were introduced to the panel of distinguished Royal Ballet judges – Stephen Wicks, Brenda Last and Isabella Gasparini.

The afternoon began with a class designed to demonstrate the technical skills of the 15 students under the guidance of former soloist dancer and freelance teacher Darren Parish, sympathetically accompanied on the piano by Ross Alley.

Understandably nervous, and with determined concentration on their faces, the students relaxed a little after judge Stephen Wicks reminded them that they were dancing to an audience and asked them to show some personality! Having rehearsed the class only that morning the students were given a series of fast and complicated enchaînements which should have delighted the noted fleet of foot former principal dancer Brenda Last.

After a short break the students returned to each dance a brief original solo either choreographed by themselves or having been created for them. It was now that their full personalities were able to shine through and the majority of the students chose a more contemporary style.

The judges had to make tough decisions but congratulated all the contestants and reminded them to‘go for it’ and ‘love every minute of what they do’.

Joining those selected from the Leeds, Edinburgh and Birmingham regional auditions to enter the final to be held at Elmhurst School in May are:
• Caitlin Edgington, Acosta Dance
• Agnes Rosa Lamb, ENBS
• Aaron Lind, graduated from ENBS
• Aayush Sharma, ENBS Graduate Programme
• Leo Godfrey, ENBS
They will each be assigned an artistic mentor to coach them in a repertoire showpiece to be performed, together with their choreographic piece, to a public audience which will include Company Directors.

Julie Bowers thanked the LBC for all our support and hoped that we would return next year. We hope so too.

As a result of this event a donation was made to GradPRO of £940.

Report by Krissie Poyser

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