Amy Hickey will begin a three-year diploma in professional dance at the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham in September
A Clonmel teenager who says that dancing is “her life” will pursue her dream of becoming a professional dancer at a prestigious ballet school in England in the autumn.
16-year-old Amy Hickey was offered a place at some of Britain’s leading full-time ballet schools and has opted for the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, where she will begin her three-year diploma in professional dance in September.
A student at the Alison Cronin Dance Academy in Clonmel since she was three years of age, ballet is her first love and she also takes classes in jazz and contemporary.
“I dance because there is nothing that can engage me physically, emotionally and socially like dancing,” she says.
“Dancing has shaped me into the person I am. It gives me an indescribable feeling that I cannot get anywhere else, especially when I am performing on stage. I love the ability to lose myself to the art of dancing the minute I put on my ballet shoes.
“Time has only intensified my desire to spend my life in the world of performing arts.
“I truly believe this is where I belong,” says Amy, who’s the daughter of Sinead and Liam Hickey from The Beeches, Spa Road, Clonmel.
Following auditions carried out via video submission and interviews over Zoom, she says that the joy and excitement of opening her first acceptance letter from a vocational school in the UK was somewhat overshadowed by the cost of the education, including boarding.
“I do not qualify for any financial assistance or the DADA Dance and Drama funding in the UK, which makes a significant reduction to the fees, almost half.
“As I am only 16 it is vital that I have continued education also and the vocational school that I have accepted (Elmhurst) is also an academic school. As well as being educated in dance I will also be following a school curriculum in A levels, which is the equivalent to the Leaving Cert in this country.”
However Amy cannot understand why her chosen career feels so unsupported.
“There is such a vast choice and financial support for academic students to pursue their goals but for ballet dancers like me there are none. There’s no funding or grants of any sort for dance students travelling to the UK for further education.
“The fees are quite substantial, with a lot of recurring expenses such as pointe shoes, which cost €80 per pair with an average lifespan of about 15 hours of dance.”
Because of this, her family would be more than grateful if any company or individual would like to offer sponsorship or support towards the considerable cost of Amy’s education.
Above: Amy Hickey in full flight
She says that she applied to the UK schools because there is nowhere in Ireland at Third Level that she can follow ballet as an education.
“If it was music, performing arts, contemporary or Irish dance there are numerous courses within Ireland I could pursue. But because of the specialty of ballet there is no facility available in Ireland to offer me the education to the level of education that I can receive in the UK in order to pursue a career or gain an education in such a discipline.”
Amy’s dance credentials are well established. She takes classes in ballet, contemporary dance, jazz and strength and conditioning at Alison Cronin’s Dance Academy and has also been a member of the Irish National Youth Ballet since 2017, taking classes each Saturday in Dublin.
She is also an associate member of the very prestigious Royal Ballet School in the UK, which involved taking classes in Belfast and subsequently on Zoom due to the current restrictions.
Amy is currently studying Advanced 1 Level in ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) Imperial Classical Ballet, being awarded a distinction in every exam since the age of six.
Because of the high grades achieved, she has participated in the annual ISTD senior ballet awards in London and was awarded first place in grades four and six/inter-foundation and second place in grade five in the last three years.
She was also the recipient of the grade six/inter-foundation musicality award at the Ballet Awards in March 2020.
Now she’s eagerly looking forward to the next phase of her career. Elmhurst Ballet School is a world leader in ballet training and education. It inspires, nurtures and celebrates young ballet dancers with the talent, commitment and passion to become exceptional dance professionals by delivering elite training.
The experience is enriched by the school’s highly esteemed association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, an association that also gives students significant performance opportunities to work with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, both at the Birmingham Hippodrome and on tour.
“Now that a new chapter in my life is fast approaching, I am even more determined to continue my journey to becoming a better version of myself with even better opportunities,” she says.
“I look forward to grasping every aspect of my studies and striving to improve myself academically with A levels alongside my studies in dance.
“To be able to perform and express my passion for dance every day would be the most rewarding study for me. I am completely in love with the idea of dancing for the rest of my life.”
As she looks forward to this exciting chapter in her life, Amy says she would never have had a chance to follow her dream without the encouragement and dedication of both of her dance teachers, Alison Cronin and her daughter Jessica Stokes, together with the support of her parents Sinead and Liam and also the support from her teachers, principal Ann McGrath and vice principal Sarah Rice of the Loreto school in Clonmel, where she was a Transition Year student this past year.
“TY co-ordinator Michelle Culliton was also a tremendous support”, she says.
For more Tipperary news see Civic reception for Rachael Blackmore
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