After 15 years of being at the Carter School of Dance, the determination and drive for a career within Musical Theatre has taken me to new heights. In September 2010 I started a degree in Performance (Musical Theatre) at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, in London. I have a full-on timetable, with some of my days stretching to 10 hours!
Mainly the focus of my course is to do with acting and the voice; both speaking and singing. Within my first term I have already learned so much, and many things have surprised me. The biggest surprise of all was the dance training offered at Mountview. Each week I have a Body Conditioning class, two Jazz classes, a Tap class and a Ballet class - it's a lot to deal with! Thankfully, my background from being at Carter School of Dance has helped me an incredible amount. I'm progressing in ways I never thought I could! Within Jazz, we learn technique alongside explosive routines choreographed by some of the West End's most recognised performers and artistic teams, including Cressida Carre and Jane McMurtrie.
Ballet is more about technique at Mountview, and using the knowledge I already have of technique has come in very handy. It's still a big challenge as the teachers are constantly pushing me to do my best and to stretch my capabilities. My Tap classes have been the most exciting part of my new training. With international "Tap Dog" Craig Scott taking my lessons, my legs have never felt more like they'll drop off any second! Mainly in my class we study American Tap, and the technique behind it, which I find fascinating because of how different it is to anything I've ever done before.
Alongside some of the best acting and singing training available in the Musical Theatre world, the dance at Mountview is fantastic! I'm so grateful for the way in which Carter School of Dance has helped me to start to realise my dream. Mrs Carter, Mrs Crowley, and all the other teachers at Carter School of Dance over the years have given me a great starting foundation for me to progress at Mountview and hopefully, one day, make it to the West End stage!
UPDATE: After successfully graduating from Mountview, Laura has worked consistently as a performer, actress and singer. Her roles have included: Prince Charming in Cinderella (Cambridge Arts Theatre), Sue in Dreamboats and Miniskirts (UK Tour), Laura/Anna Maria in Godspell in Concert (Lyric Theatre), Cinderella at The Key Theatre, Nicole D'Artagnan/Cardinal Richtea in Barbershopera's The Three Musketeers. As of April 2016, Laura is performing in Showboat at the New London Theatre.
I started with The Carter School of Dance at the age of 11, with some experience in Irish dance and Jazz but without any technical training in Ballet or Modern. Both Mrs Crowley and Mrs Carter have been incredibly supportive throughout my time at the School, pushing me a lot further than I thought I could ever go.
I started auditioning for Performing Arts Colleges and Universities in November 2009. I always knew it was not going to be easy and the competition would be high. It wasn’t just about colleges auditioning me, but I was auditioning the place, course and people myself.
My first audition day at The Urdang Academy was very intense. The morning was split into an hour and a half Jazz session and a solo singing performance. The Jazz class was quick paced and technical and I gave it everything I had! A bit too much maybe, as I gave myself whiplash and was in a LOT of pain...slightly embarrassing! With the singing section, everyone in my group sat outside as one by one we went in to perform a solo, one that everyone else outside could hear, so the competition was definitely on!
A long wait followed and then they cut the group down from around 200 to 50.
The afternoon was also split into 2 sections with a gruelling hour and a half Ballet audition. I had only been studying ballet since I was 11 so this part was quite daunting for me, but adrenaline kicked in and I couldn’t do anything more than my best! We then had a more relaxed drama workshop. Before we left some of us were asked to stay for a physical examination and a quick interview with Miss Pope and the Musical Director. This was my time to shine. As the then Head Girl of The Sele School, I think my interview techniques and self presentation were strong points, and my passion for the course and my dreams shone through.
When I received my letter to say I had been accepted onto the Diploma course and re-called for the Degree I thought they’d honestly got it wrong, I couldn’t believe my luck! So I went back in March 2010 and went through the gruelling 4 stage process once more. I was so tired from the auditioning I had been doing, that just the thought of going through this process again was really hard! But I must have done something right...not too sure what...but I received my acceptance letter for the Degree in the summer and was so utterly grateful and speechless at the opportunity I had been given!
I have jumped hurdles to get to where I am now, mentally and physically. I am not the most technical dancer and wasn’t over confident of securing a place, but I have a real drive to achieve in life, and I am determined to fight for the place I have been so fortunate to be awarded. Course fees are very high resulting in funding problems. When awarded my place I felt like I had climbed mountains, just to be struck down at the last moment as I couldn’t afford the fees.I decided to take a year out and this year I am working full time as a receptionist in order to raise funds. I also tutor GCSE and A-Level dance students at The Sele School as well as trying to train in order to be more prepared for my funding audition this year. I am applying to individuals and charities for sponsorship or funding, but I do understand that at times like these people just don’t have the money to offer.
The Carter School of Dance have been a life saver! They push me hard and are always there; I could not have got anywhere close to gaining a place without the quality of teaching and individual knowledge and understanding that they give. I’m extremely grateful for everything they’ve done for me.
UPDATE: Clare graduated successfully from Urdang and was the joint winner of the Urdang "Student of the Year" at the Academy's Graduation show. She is now working as an actress and dancer.
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I have always loved singing, dancing and acting, and have been in lots of lots of amateur shows locally. More recently, I have worked in the West End, abroad, and am currently on tour.
At the moment I am in "The Sound of Music" tour as Friedrich Von Trapp. It's great fun, and I've been touring since October 2010 to Bristol, Oxford, Hull, Stoke-on-Trent, Derry, Dublin, and finally Glasgow in June. I started off playing alongside Connie Fisher and Michael Praed, and now we have a new "Mum and Dad" in Jason Donovan and Verity Rushworth. In each team, there are seven of us, but only two boys. We have to have our hair cut so that if fits the part; a 1930s short back and sides!
It was very exciting to get into "The Sound of Music" and it took five audition stages. The six rehearsal weeks were hard work as there is a lot to learn. The dancing is quite complicated, and there are lots of moves that we have to remember, and sing at the same time. The scene in the bedroom is good fun, and us two boys have a dance routine which is very active! I have also learned to waltz as well.
I have also performed in "Oliver" at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as "ensemble" and "Book Boy", which was brilliant. I loved my time in "Oliver" and did 52 shows in total. The dance routines were quite easy but really effective. My favourite part was as "Book Boy" riding onto the stage on top of a cart!
Last July I went to Cyprus to perform in "Oliver" at The Larnaka Festival in a huge open air theatre. In this I was Oliver understudy and played "Captain" in a gang which meant there was a lot of dancing involved. As part of the gang we had long routines to learn with Fagin and Nancy. There were just 16 boys so we all had to know the routines really well. My favourite part was running out into the audience and pretending to pick their pockets! We only had two weeks rehearsals before we went out but it was great fun.
My biggest dancing challenge was probably as "Young Leo" in "The Go Between" at Trafalgar Studios in London. I had to "fly like a butterfly" on a small stage on various pieces of set around the rest of the cast who were frozen during the song. I had to leap and perform ballet moves without bumping into anyone or anything!
Having ballet lessons has really helped me manage with all the roles I've had so far, and I hope to return to lessons as soon as I can.
CSD Alumni - news of our former students
As well as going on to full-time vocational ballet training, some of our former CSD students have trained in Musical Theatre and Theatre Dance, and are now professionals working in the theatre industry.
Some of our alumni have written below about their life in training and how their time at Carter School of Dance helped them.