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Holly Rush alumni of Lowry CAT
Holly Rush alumni of Lowry CAT

How to join a world-class specialist dance school

Home » To do & see » How to join a world-class specialist dance school

World-class, specialist dance school the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) at The Lowry, is recruiting young dancers for its Autumn intake. Carmel Thomason talked to CAT Manager, Sally Wyatt to find out more:

Sally Wyatt Centre for Advanced Training Manager
Sally Wyatt Centre for Advanced Training Manager

Why is it important to have a scheme like Lowry CAT?

Sally: The Lowry CAT scheme allows young people to pursue their dreams of a career in dance as part of a broad and balanced education. They gain a strong pre-vocational training alongside their formal curriculum education without needing to leave home. The Department for Education means tested grant funding provides financial support for eligible families to support and in many cases, fully fund training costs; making this world class, specialist training affordable and accessible to young people regardless of personal circumstances”.

What does an audition for Lowry CAT involve?

Sally: “All the young people take part in a contemporary technique and creative class which allows them to demonstrate their capabilities and potential across both areas. The Lowry CAT training supports young people to develop a strong technical foundation and also importantly, find their voice as artists. Participants may also be invited for an interview at the end of the day which gives us all the opportunity to chat more about their aspirations and understanding of dance training”.

What are you looking for at the audition?

Sally: “We look for young people who have the potential to grow as a technical dancer and creative artist; those who demonstrate clear passion and determination to pursue a career in dance; who are excited to learn and take themselves out of their comfort zone. We’re not looking for years of technical experience but we do look to ensure that the young people have the facility within their bodies and the maturity to take on the intensity of the training. We offer feedback for those young people who we are not able to offer a place to and support them to identify other pathways into dance training”.

If successful what type of dance do people learn at CAT?

Sally: “The aim of our programme is to prepare our young dancers for full time vocational training and introduce them to what a career in dance may look like so they can make an informed decision about their next steps. The main focus of our technical training is contemporary dance which is in itself, very broad. The foundation of the technique comes from Cunningham but we introduce other techniques to fine-tune the physicality including Ballet, PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Yoga, Injury Prevention and Health, and Wellbeing provisions.

“A strong focus of our training is on creativity. Choreography, devising and improvisation develops the dancers’ own unique artistic voice. In addition to all of this, dancers are offered the unique opportunity to develop their artistic and creative skills with professional dance companies & artists such as Akram Khan Company, Studio Wayne McGregor & Rambert Dance Company, to name a few, in intensive workshops and courses”.

What is the time commitment involved?

Sally: “CAT students train at The Lowry every Saturday and one evening a week during term time. They also have the opportunity to create dance with professional visiting dance companies/artists across intensive weekends at half term and a week over Spring break, culminating in an annual performance at the end of the year”.

How would you describe the learning environment?

Sally: “Our students have wonderful and varied experiences of dance. They learn in a highly supportive environment that allows them to be challenged and inspired physically and artistically, underpinned by a strong focus on their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Our tutors are practising dance artists and excellent educators.

“The scheme is based at The Lowry so students are immersed in the world of theatre and culture. We regularly have guest dance and theatre companies work with the students on intensive projects so students have the experience of making dance work with professionals; the connections that The CAT has across the arts sector are fantastic and supportive of their next steps into the world of dance”.

Matthew Rawcliffe in ‘Axon’. The Lowry CAT at UDance 2016 Nationals. Photography Brian Slater
Matthew Rawcliffe in ‘Axon’. The Lowry CAT at UDance 2016 Nationals. Photography Brian Slater

What age do people normally join the scheme?

Sally: “We have students join at a time that suits them between 11 and 16 years of age”.

What have graduates from the scheme gone on to do?

Sally: “Most graduates from the scheme choose to go onto vocational training or to train in something connected with dance such as physiotherapy. So many of our students are performing, teaching and choreographing across the world. Some examples of CAT Alumni career highlights include dancing with the world renowned Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, developing their own successful, innovative dance companies & researching in dance science and mental health. Students learn valuable life skills and make long lasting friendships and many have come back home to work with us here at The Lowry as teachers, choreographers and coordinators!”

How can people find out more?

Sally: “By attending one of our Open Days on 23 April or 14 May. You can book a free spot via the website or for more information email CAT@thelowry.com or call us on 07983485273. Application forms for the Audition in June will be available soon on The Lowry website“.

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Carmel Thomason
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Avatar photo Written by Carmel Thomason