Borders lass Sophie says Edinburgh dance school is a ballet good opportunity

An aspiring ballet star from Melrose is urging fellow budding dancers to audition for a place at an Edinburgh school run by one of the world’s most famous dancers.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 5:34 pm
Melrose's Sophie McGarry.

Sophie McGarry just turned 14 earlier this month, but has already caught the eye of mentor Peter Schaufuss, the Olivier Award-winning dance legend who has established the world-class training academy Edinburgh Festival Ballet School in the capital’s New Town.

Sophie has relished the opportunity to be a part of the school, a role she fits around studies at Earlston High School.

Auditions take place on Saturday, January 18, for a limited number of coveted places to study from September this year, and the former Parkside and Melrose Primary School pupil has told fellow Borders performers to seize such an opportunity.

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“To anyone who is keen to learn in ballet, I’d say ‘Go for it!’,” said Sophie. “It’s a really amazing experience, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot.

“You have to be very committed to attend weekend classes for hours, but Edinburgh Festival Ballet School has helped me improve a lot in the last few months ... they give you room to build your style of dancing and to show your personality.

“My main tutor is school principal Johan Christensen and I’ve been taught by Peter Schaufuss himself a few times, which was a big privilege.

“I’d love to carry on at the part-time school for a couple of years, and it would be pretty cool to be part of a Peter Schaufuss full-time school after that.”

Sophie added: “I went to see my first ballet, Coppelia, when I was eight, and I’ve wanted to do ballet since then.

“I know it’s pretty much every girl’s dream, but I’d love to be in the Nutcracker. The main three companies I’ve always wanted to be a part of are English National Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Royal Ballet, as I like their styles.”

Talented performers from across Scotland are invited to audition free of charge on Saturday for a place at the school.

Peter Schaufuss famously founded the English National Ballet in 1988 and has, in a stellar career, performed and directed all over the world.

Those auditioning will compete for the chance to secure one of only 20 coveted places on the school’s part-time course (suitable for those aged 12 and over) and 20 places on its full-time training course (suitable for dancers aged 16 and over).

During the audition, they will be put through their paces during a two-hour masterclass by principal Johan Christensen. Successful applicants will be notified within a week of their audition.

Schaufuss said: “Edinburgh Festival Ballet School provides a place where some of the finest young performers in Scotland can go to obtain a professional full-time dance education while living and training in Edinburgh.

“I wanted to pass on what I have learnt through all my years of experience in the dance world, and we have been delighted with the success of the pilot course run in the past year.

“I’ve been heartened to witness first-hand the progress of our full-time cohort and younger part-time dancers.

“There are opportunities for both experienced students who are already on the way to making a career as a dancer, as well as those who have raw talent and the desire to succeed, but have only basic experience of ballet.”

Scottish youngsters aged 12 and older with ambitions of a career in dance can apply to audition for a place at Edinburgh Festival Ballet School by emailing school administrator Lee Walls at [email protected]