Dancer from Stonehouse tours UK with ‘world-leading’ group

A Stonehouse dance student is to tour with an elite, ‘world-leading’ UK ballet group as they return to performing this summer.

Over five weeks and in 11 venues, Samuel Banks, who attended Maidenhill School, will join Ballet Central – a company established by the late Christopher Gable, who was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his services to British dance.

Mr Banks, who first trained at Sally Prout School of Dancing in Eastington, is in his final year of a degree at the Central School of Ballet in London but he has spent much of the last year training at home due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience again, especially performing Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling, and the experience of touring in a company,” Mr Banks said.

“The past year has been challenging during periods of lockdown, and training in masks when we have been in the studio, but Central has supported students with an online training programme which allows us to maintain our technique while we are back at home.

“Trying to dance in the kitchen when others are at home has been hard, but it has been fun at times too, and we have all progressed and gained new skills.”

Under the artistic direction of Christopher Marney, the company of 37 graduate dancers will be performing from June 17 and the locations closest to Stroud are Birmingham and Winchester.

The group has been split into two casts so as to alternate performances by venue as the tour progresses, protecting dancers alongside regular testing and rehearsing in bubbles.

Christopher Marney said: “The dancers have demonstrated great determination and resilience by continuing training throughout the restrictions of the pandemic.

“Confined to training at home for long periods, we are now back in the studio with all protocols in place rehearsing for this year’s tour.

“We are thrilled to be returning to so many venues where audiences have welcomed the skill and technique of our young performers.”

Ballet Central is the touring company of Central School of Ballet in London, a world-leading centre for professional dance training and education, according to the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.

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