Ballet must be open to all, says Sarah

December 23 2015

HOPING to make ballet as “accessible as going to the cinema”, and to inspire people to pursue careers in the industry, is local entrepreneur Sarah Sigley.

HOPING to make ballet as “accessible as going to the cinema”, and to inspire people to pursue careers in the industry, is local entrepreneur Sarah Sigley.

Her company, New Works Ballet Theatre (NWBT) in Redland, was set up in response to a lack of job opportunities for people wanting to pursue a career in ballet.  

Sarah says that she also wanted to challenge the perception that ballet is for people of a certain aesthetic, or from a particular background.  

“It had been something in the back of my mind for quite some time,” said Sarah who has been practising ballet since the age of two, “but the big light bulb moment was when I realised that Bristol hasn’t had its own officially established ballet company since 1969.

“And also how many gifted young dancers there are in the South West who would love to make a career for themselves in the industry.

“There are so few dance companies that offer a wide range of repertoire and the possibility employment in this country. I would like to be able to help more aspiring dancers and choreographers realise that this can be a career option.”

She added: “I also see this company not just offering employment, but also being able to challenge opinions too.

“There is a terrible stigma within ballet that you must be of a certain aesthetic in order to be able to take part or that you must be from a certain background in order to attend a performance.

“I want to make it really clear that we come without judgement of body, ability or background and that ballet can be as accessible and approachable as going to the cinema.”

NWBT was set-up in July, but will officially open to the public from January.

Sarah aims to create as many different classes as possible, including an Associates Programme for children aged 8-18, who are already in training, and open classes for adults of all abilities.

NWBT will also be launching the ‘Chance to Dance’ project which offers ballet classes to children who may not have the opportunity to learn due to the costly nature of training.

“The hope is that even if it is not taken to the higher level, the children involved will be able to learn many of the valuable life skills that ballet offers such a team work, self-discipline and patience and hopefully have fun too.”

Sarah was successful in receiving a small grant of £250 for the Chance to Dance project at the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership Community Fair in September.

She will be putting the funds towards paying for studio hire, ballet shoes and insurance.  

Sarah has many hopes and dreams for the NWBT, and says that she is excited to create a wide variety of shows for the company to perform.

“From a very young age I was always creating productions and making up little dances, and generally forcing a lot of my friends and family into the shows.

“Although I took exams and did very well, it was always the performances, creative process and costumes that I remember I loved the most.

“It is nice to think that after all the years of learning I have been able to turn something I used to do into my own company.”

Sarah has trained at a number of prestigious schools, including Tring Arts Educational School, the Royal Ballet, Central School of Ballet, and Rambert, were she graduated in 2010.

She added: “The training was tough but I am so grateful for all the education that I received, as it has made me into the person and dancer that I am today.

“I really hope I can pass on some of this enthusiasm to the next students.”

For more information about New Works Ballet Theatre, contact Sarah at: NWBTinfo@gmail.com.