Dream of being a dancer in the balance

Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 01:00

A YOUNG Irish woman on the verge of fulfilling her dream to be a professional ballet dancer fears she will be unable to pay her tuition fees.

Juliet Casey (17) from Walkinstown in Dublin has been accepted into the Northern Ballet School in Manchester and is due to start in September. But fees for the three-year course are more than €43,000 (£33,930).

Ms Casey began ballet classes at three and has danced with the Irish National Youth Ballet Company since she was 12.

Its artistic director, Katherine Lewis, said professional dance was one of the toughest professions. “There is a lot of rejection but Juliet is very committed and has a good strong will, which you need if you are going to work within the ballet world. With that commitment and the talent she has, she could be a very bankable dancer.”

If dancers want a career in ballet they must study abroad in a full-time dance school. Ms Casey said it was a great honour to be accepted to the Northern Ballet School.

A spokeswoman for the school said it got more than 400 applications every year for 30 to 40 places. “The competition is fierce and the audition process is very rigorous,” she said.

But Ms Casey said the tuition fees were £11,310 a year “and my parents cannot afford them. I am trying to get funding from all possible places including the Government and independent companies, but to no avail,” she said.

She has applied for a €3,000 VEC scholarship for exceptionally talented students. She will hold a fundraising concert at Kimmage Manor in Dublin on August 31st at 7pm and says if she doesn’t raise enough money for her fees she will donate the funds to Focus Ireland.

Ms Casey, who practises five days a week, said: “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

She can be contacted at julietmcasey@gmail.com