Case Study: Preparing young people for a career in the performing arts industry

Francesca Calder

When did you first become involved with Scottish Ballet?
Growing up in Scotland I was always aware of Scottish Ballet, but I first became personally involved in the Company in 2012 when I joined the Scottish Ballet Youth Collective. I had done a lot of acting since I was young and through that did a little bit of dance – when I was 15 when my mum’s friend told me about SBYC 2 and I loved it!

Can you explain your journey through the company?
From SBYC 2 I was then accepted into SBYC3, the oldest group of the Scottish Ballet Youth Collective. Around the same time I was accepted into the Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange, an incredible project where a group of us visited Singapore for two weeks in July 2014 and shared our cultures, skills and experiences with a group of young dancers from School of the Arts, Singapore and The Human Expression Dance Company.
As the oldest member of SBYC3 I was thinking about my next steps in my life, and I decided to take a gap year to figure things out. I knew that I wanted to stay with company and I was thrilled when Catherine Cassidy (Associate Director, Education) offered me an internship with the Education department. Since then I’ve been working in the office at Scottish Ballet’s headquarters helping with administration as well as creative work with classes such as Wee Mice.

What have been some of your highlights over the years?
Being involved with Scottish Ballet has brought many memorable experiences! Working with Kerry Nicols throughout the Commonwealth Youth Exchange is definitely a highlight, she’s very inspirational and she brought things out in me that I was too scared to do at first, but when given the confidence and the opportunity to go for it I loved it!
Getting to work in the office and see what goes on in the background has been fascinating. Working out who you need to contact, doing research for different talks, it all really interests me.
And working with the Wee Mice is always great, I’m really passionate about early years development and love being involved in that.

Have you made any new friendships through your involvement with Scottish Ballet?
Yes, definitely! The SBYC girls are a really close group as a whole and there are also strong individual friendships within that. They’re such a nice group so it’s great to work with people you’re friends with, and I started around the same time as Lorraine Jamieson (Creative Associate, Education) so she’s been with me from the start – it’s been really beneficial to have someone who has been able to see me develop, it’s a great support network.
The group from Singapore who we met through the Youth Exchange I would never have met if it wasn’t for Scottish Ballet – even those within the Scottish group, too! We all still keep in touch and try to do things together after the project ended. Following from that, the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the UK, Malta and all over the world!
The Gadfly Project with GoDance in 2014 allowed me to work closely with other groups and companies which is something Scottish Ballet continually provides the opportunity people to do.

What have you learned in your time here?
I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout my time with Scottish Ballet. I’ve learned that I’m good in a crisis situation, like in Youth Exchange if we had to plan something or organise quickly I really enjoyed figuring out how to make it work.
As a dancer and a performer, I’ve learned a lot about how I like to move and what challenges me, and having people around me to let me see what I can actually achieve has been amazing.
I’ve learned so much about how a dance company works, like the different ways of teaching from all ages – how you plan for little ones in Wee Mice and what you do if the plan suddenly has to change. I love problem solving in all areas from administration, teaching and performing, and pushing through any challenges. It’s a great creative atmosphere, everyone is very encouraging and positive to help you in any situation.
For anyone wanting to get involved in a dance company, or take any big step towards something that they’re interested, I’d say just dive in. It can be a little bit scary but it’s so rewarding! If you have a question just ask – all someone can say is no and that’s better than always wondering what could have happened. I’ve met loads of interesting people from choreographers, photographers and dancers and discovered so many new things. I can’t thank Scottish Ballet enough!

Case Study: Rewarding our loyal audience

Mark Cuthbert

Friend of Scottish Ballet

Mark Cuthbert has been a Principal Friend of the Company for several years.

What first got you interested in Ballet?
Undoubtedly ballet is my favourite art form. I found myself based permanently in Scotland and was keen for Scottish Ballet to flourish. I had been aware for some time that the Company’s reputation was growing and a few performances put me in mind to support a little more. It wasn’t until I did so that I realised what being a Friend really meant in terms of feeling involved.

Has being a Friend of the Company allowed you to feel more a part of its work, and if so how?
Unquestionably! That’s why I continue to support. Watching rehearsals online or on stage and seeing directors fine-tune a performance across its development is fantastic. Being invited to functions alongside all this is really extraordinary: I’m not aware of anything else on this scale from my memberships with other art organisations.

What has your favourite Scottish Ballet performance been so far?
A Streetcar Named Desire. I was with friends and we were completely blown away. The narrative from Williams’s play was extraordinary and adopted in such an emotive way. The set was brilliant and many of my favourite dancers featured. As a friend, being able to speak with some of the dancers was illuminating: getting their perspective meant a great deal. I was thrilled to hear the Company were performing the piece in New Orleans in autumn 2013; quite an acknowledgment and something to be very proud of that we’re flying our flag in that way.

What do you consider to be the most important thing about Scottish Ballet’s work?
One word: blending. The important thing that Scottish Ballet does is being a part of our society, it blends old and young, traditional and new and it blends international influence and feel with a community-based approach. Ballet can be perceived to be a very elitist art form, like other fine-arts, but I would suggest that the Company is very inclusive-that’s perhaps the most important thing. To have cultural ingredients in our society as strong as Scottish Ballet is vital and I’m proud to support it.

If you’d like more information on how to become more involved with Scottish Ballet we’d love to hear from you:
T: 0141 331 2931