Out and About - The ISTD Chair, Sue Passmore, shares her latest news
11 January 2019
This Out and About is focused on three very different examples of entrepreneurship. Achieving a sustainable career in the world of dance takes courage, underpinned by skill, determination, opportunity and luck
I have met many inspirational teachers recently who have moved beyond the boundaries of convention and sought to ‘take the road less travelled’ because they are not only quietly ambitious but also brave enough to grasp opportunity.
To some people pure passion and drive is the single most defining characteristic of a successful entrepreneur; being able to focus all their energies on turning a concept into a reality; having the flexibility to accept and adopt change when necessary for personal and career growth.
There’s a difference between thinking and pursuing a venture or idea and making it work. Experience has shown me that many risk takers are meticulous but have the foresight to seek help when they need it.
Alex is a graduate from Creative Academy and was always focused on becoming a full time dance teacher for ISTD Ballet, Tap and Modern. She created a duet with her sister who is disabled for her final degree project and the outcome inspired her to continue developing her creative ideas.
She has been teaching since 2016 following graduating with a First Class Hons degree and this year entered her first students for ISTD examinations. Apart from this she does voluntary work with A Chance To Dance, which is a school for children with disabilities. Alex has recently set up her own dance integrated company, Medley Dance, with the tag line of ‘Differences Dancing Together’. This company is a not for profit enterprise that specialises in dance workshops for schools and charities for children and young adults with disabilities, the website is www.medleydance.com.
When I met Alex I was soon aware of her goals and open attitude to life and I felt that she will achieve her ambitions. She wants to make inclusivity for able bodied and disabled dancers the source of her ambitions. Her training has given her the tools and tenacity to do so. She intends to take additional qualifications with the ISTD for continual professional development and realises that this will underpin her career pathway.
Ben grew up in Malta and from an early age he had a natural affinity with theatre acting in his highly academic boys’ school. His love of dance, which commenced unsurprisingly with Tap, has been rewarded through his tenacity and determination to prove that the theatre with all its potential pitfalls was the life he had to embrace regardless of initial parental disapproval.
His story is one of peaks and valleys, of a determination similar to many theatre students of any age or culture, who realise that to achieve their goals and finance essential training they have to believe in themselves and he certainly did. He is academically gifted and speaks several languages. At the age of 18, having barely enough money to audition in the UK, he arrived from Malta and having been offered a place at several colleges accepted a scholarship at the Margaret Howard School of Performing Arts and thrived, taking essential ISTD Exams.
The theatre world never ceases to amaze and impress me, and the young artists of today seem to grasp opportunity and make it work because it is a way of life and they deserve our continual support for their endeavours.
Ben Darmanin is a theatre producer, and theatre consultant, he has an MA in Musical Theatre from The Royal Academy of Music and also an ARAM. His performance career is extensive, playing principal roles prior to setting up two companies to provide young hopefuls with mentors and progression routes.
He is now the owner and principal of Momentum Performing Arts Academy, formerly Margaret Howard and has ambitions for the school that are realistic and achievable. His determination is infectious.
Joy graduated from Surrey University with a BA Hons in Dance and Culture. Whilst studying she did a placement with Stopgap Dance, assisting with Trespass UK as an education assistant and supported research into the company’s publications. Her roles increased; with the company she was access worker, production assistant, touring and supporting the team in education workshops.
In 2016 Joy joined the adult performance group, Troop, as a performer. However, the smallscale dance company performs at festivals, which allowed Joy to continue to being involved in her administrative roles.
Her latest promotion is Sg2 Creative Learning Co-ordinator in more specific areas of education. This requires organisation of logistics for education projects, supports apprentice dancers and when I saw Troop performing at Bedford University in November I was so impressed by her sensitive performance. As I watched Joy I was aware of the diversity of roles that today’s young trained artists can achieve and she certainly manages to fit administration and performing into her schedules. She is clearly fulfilling a pathway on her own terms.