Youth Exchange 2020/21

The 2020/21 Scottish Ballet’s Youth Exchange has been meeting weekly on Zoom since the autumn.  They’ve been led by Sara Kemal and have had sessions with guests dance artists Sophie Laplane, Lewis Normand, Thomas Edwards and Evan Loudon.  As well, they have had two evenings with multi-disciplinary dance artist Kerry Nicolls looking at skills required for the profession in and out of the dance studio.

In March 2020, Youth Exchange took part in a short but very successful pilot project in New York City,  working with four dancers from Y Ex and four from new partners, MOVE NYC. The work created was dynamic and the relationships developed were deep. The foundation for a really positive partnership was laid.  

Adapting to the current situation, over two weekends in January Y Ex reached back across the Atlantic, via Zoom, to work intensively with a total of eighteen dancers, between 15 and 24 years, from SB and MOVE NYC.  Each day they took part in a ballet class, led by Scottish Ballet’s Thomas Edwards or Constance Devernay, and contemporary class led by Jesse Obremski of NYC and Laja Field of Utah.  For two hours each afternoon/evening the dancers then created material led by SB’s choreographer in residence, Sophie Laplane, and MOVE NYCs Chanel da Silva. These intensive weekends culminated in an inspired sharing of the work in progress, attended remotely by friends, families, colleagues and supporters from across the UK and USA.  

Infused with a renewed common purpose and desire we look forward to the next stage of this partnership when we can get together, in a Scottish dance studio, to create more dance and celebrate each other’s cultures.

Until then, throughout February and March SB Y Ex dancers will create the Youth Exchange’s first-ever short film, an exciting new project led by Sophie Laplane and filmmaker Beth Chalmers.

For more information please contact

‘This project taught me so much that I’m going to take into my future career. I think it came at a pivotal moment in my training and prepared me so well for my move to London. Not only did it refine my class etiquette but gave me an insight into professional work and how to work within it. I learned that no matter what you are doing to always work at 150%, as you never know what is around the corner.’

Youth Exchange Participant 18/19

‘We underestimated how much Jennifer would get out of the Youth Exchange. It has provided more than just dance, it has given her positive role models and a focus on what she wants to do. We will be ever grateful for all the work that the Education department do. ’

Participant Parent

Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange 2018/19

In the summer of 2019 the Youth Exchange partnered with dancers from Turin, in northern Italy. The combined company gave the world premiere of Sophie Laplane’s latest work, Dialogues, at the Torino Danza Festival, to great acclaim. You can see photos from their collaboration in the studio, in the gallery below.

Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange

Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange 2016/18

In October 2016 we were delighted to make a new work with 18 first year students from TISCH, New York University, where Scottish Ballet Creative Associate Lorraine Jamieson created a new dance piece with the group inspired by Brian Arias's Motion of Displacement.

14 dance students from Scottish Ballet's Youth Exchange travelled to New York in April 2017 to work with the dancers from NYU. They completed the new work together and performed it at The Joyce Theater.

Scottish Ballet partnered with Joyce Theater Education team in New York, and the exchange explored themes from the triple bill that the company toured to New York at that time (a triple bill that included Bryan Arias, Christopher Bruce and Christopher Hampson).

‘It has been amazing to learn new styles, be inspired by the people around me and dance in the beautiful Scottish Ballet studios. I feel that the group as a whole really bonded in New York and became a family. I think it was everyone’s equal efforts which allowed this to happen. ’

Youth Exchange Participants


  • Participants and applicants experienced an industry standard audition and recruitment process. 45 candidates applied, 31 candidates were auditioned and 23 were interviewed in Scotland.   
  • Through the programme, 13 participants were offered individually-tailored dance and performance ‘work experience’ packages that are not available through their colleges and schools.
  • One participant from the 2015/16 programme was invited to return and develop their experience as Rehearsal Director.
  • Weekly skills-development sessions in the professional studios at Scottish Ballet, giving them the opportunity to broaden their professional and cultural horizons, develop their dance technique and choreography and build on their creativity and individual strengths.
  • 32 participants made new friends across the world, experienced a different culture and dance training in that culture, learnt new transferable skills, and made a meaningful connection with Scotland’s national dance company.
  • The exchange participants worked collaboratively to learn and perform a new dance work.
  • The exchange participants took part in a performance at Joyce Theater, New York to an audience of over 150 people.
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited YEX rehearsals in New York. The dancers were then invited to a reception with the First Minister in Scotland in June.  
  • Some of the Youth Exchange participants took part in the Generation Dance Festival at Tramway in June 2018.
More Projects