What a Year It’s Been!

This, WTA’s 10th anniversary has been full of performances, achievements and success, what a year.  September kicked off in full swing, working towards the main show, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.’  Students worked tirelessly to tell this magical story through dance and put their all into this production.  Sophie Gurung danced her final role with WTA as the majestic Aslan and Anna Morris, also her final show with us embodied the ferocious Queen; they were equally matched in their strong performance skills, transfixing the audience making it ‘the best show yet’.  The artistic director of ‘AboutNowish’ wrote an amazing review, ‘It’s clear to all that have come for the show, this is more than a dancing school, this a community, and all that take part are energised and inspired by the Wright family team at the helm of it all…This is more than a showcase of talent, this is a true celebration of both C.S Lewis’ magical story and the talents of ALL the children in the academy…We see the older children guide the young through their positions and steps and we understand that being part of the Wright Theatre Arts family is a wonderful experience for all…What must it be like to be part of this family that works together to bring such a bountiful feast of an offering? With the closing goodbyes we are given a glimpse into this school’s heart.’

In January our associate ballet class saw a surge of new students, this is so exciting as we realise how passionate, dedicated and committed so many of our senior side of the school are to dance. In March Fi Beale from the Northern ballet theatre came to give a workshop based on the companies upcoming show ‘Jane Eyre’.  We held two workshops, for our junior and senior school. Both started with a technique class and then followed with some repertoire from the show, finishing with the children’s own creative input.  It was a wonderful workshop leaving every child with a smile on their face. 

In May, Matt Lackford came to give a floor workshop.  It was a huge success, the students all worked so hard and really listened well and implemented everything Matt was talking about to their dancing and choreography. It was a fantastic 3 hours, Matt was a brilliant teacher, adding humour and comedy to the class, making the students feel at ease.  He wrote an email of thanks, saying that he had had ‘a wonderful afternoon teaching our children and that they were a very talented bunch.’

Also in May was the Ilkley Carnival, and what a scorcher of a day. The school was well and truly represented, with a total of 47 children and 30 adults taking part, and as usual we had great feedback from bystanders in the crowd.  We are so proud of our students at WTA, there were no complaints as you danced and acted all the way from Kings Road to the field a mile away, despite wearing fur, full headdresses, carrying heavy props, being dehydrated, blistering feet and the boiling hot temperatures making us extremely proud!

Earlier this year we selected a handful of students to try out for the Royal Ballet Associate Programme auditions, which took part in May.  In June we learnt that two of our students, Sonny Curtis aged 9 and Alannah Otter aged 8 have been accepted as Royal Ballet Junior Associates and will now train with the best in the business.  Alannah has been dancing with us since the age of 2 and has an extremely good work ethic and discipline towards her dancing.  Sonny has only been dancing with us for 2 terms, and since he has started he has grown to absolutely love ballet.  They are both very happy to have been offered this chance and can’t wait to begin in September. 

Adam Williams aged 13, also had a successful audition with Phoneix Youth Academy in June and will join their programme in September.  Adam first joined WTA at the age of 6 when we started our all boys class ‘Boys Zone’, since then has joined, ballet, tap, modern, jazz and is our only male ballet associate.  Adam is such a talented, dedicated student, who over the years has really grown in confidence, strength and performance and we have no doubt that he will continue to grow and mature as a dancer with Phoenix.  We are absolutely delighted for all of them and can’t wait to follow their journeys and continue to celebrate with them in their success.

This summer we performed 3 popular numbers from our recent production ‘Narnia’ at the Ben Rhydding Fete. Bronze, Silver and Gold jazz opened with the energetic ‘Babies of the Blitz’, which was received really well by the audience; this was followed by our wonderful Grade 4 modern students dancing ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and ending our slot on the field with ‘Dhoom Machale’ was the senior jazz and adult Bollywood class. Together they all gave a memorable and colourful performance, brightening what was a rather wet year at the Fete.

Also want to give a special mention to our senior choreography students who have come on leaps and bounds the past two terms.  They gave great performances of their work based on the photograph ‘Eye II Eye’ at the final open class in July.  We cannot express how proud we are of this class, they have all grown so much in maturity, choreography and confidence; it has been an absolute privilege to watch them create their work in their groups and perform them in front of the class, which is no easy task as a teenager.  This class represents the ethos of the school; we love watching how they work together, seeing how inclusive they are, the support they offer each other and the constructive feedback they give one another, creating an environment of trust and safety where they can grow in confidence; this is a very special place to dance and create work.

It has come to that time again, when our senior students leave us to start their new paths.  We are so sad to say goodbye to Sophie Gurung and Anna Morris, who are leaving WTA as they prepare for their next steps in education and to Rosa Cooper who is finding it too much with having two jobs and studying for her A levels. Sophie has decided to take a gap year, which she will use to raise money for travelling and take the time to try work out what she wants to do and study at University.  Anna has been accepted into Durham university where she is looking forward to studying ………It is always sad to say goodbye to students, but when they have been with us since they were 3 it is like saying goodbye to a member of your family. They will be greatly missed, and there will be a huge hole in class where they have been, but we wish them the best of luck and hope they will, as part of the boomerang generation keep coming back! 

The year has ended with the return of Becca, Charlotte, Rebecca and Bea back at classes, it has been so lovely to see them again, before they return to University in September, we always love it when former students pop in and see us.  The WTA Summer school ‘Light Fantastic’ begins next week with the theme ‘Strictly Bug Ball’ and promises to be another messy year full of creativity, physical theatre and performance, as we make a show in a week, the final performance will be at 3pm on Friday 3rd August. 

We wish you all a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you in September with Tamsin and Nicks added addition to the WTA family, who will no doubt be making many appearances in class. What a great year!