Six of the best dance their way to the top

Students from Barbara Jackson Theatre School, celebrating dance and theatre college places and funding, back row, from left Ellie Owen, Lydia May and Jessica Pickles with, front from left, Millie Fielding, Lucy Glynn and Elly Hardingham.
Students from Barbara Jackson Theatre School, celebrating dance and theatre college places and funding, back row, from left Ellie Owen, Lydia May and Jessica Pickles with, front from left, Millie Fielding, Lucy Glynn and Elly Hardingham.
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There’s not just ‘one singular sensation’ among the students at a Blackpool dance school, but six as a whole chorus line of girls prepares for life at dance and stage school.

Teachers and fellow dancers at Barbara Jackson’s Theatre Arts Centre are saying ‘so long, farewell’ to Ellie Owen, Lydia May, Millie Fielding, Elly Hardingham, Lucy Glynn and Jessica Pickles.

And all six of them have secured DaDA funding for their studies from the government – which is hard to secure and rarely granted to under 18s.

Ellie and Lydia, 18, will head to The Hammond School in Chester; Millie, 16, is going to Bird College of Dance in London; Elly, 18, to Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts; Lucy, 16, to Preston Dance College; and Jessica to Performers College in London – securing her DaDA aged just 15.

BJTA principal Lorraine Hill said: “They don’t give the Dance and Drama Awards easily – and these days especially not to those under 18 - so for all our girls to get one, especially Jessica who’s not 16 until August, it really is a proud achievement.

“We’ll miss them so much, and it follows on from last year’s seven girls winning places, again all with DaDA, so it feels like we’re doing something right.

“All my teachers, especially Joanna Newson our drama teacher, deserve so much credit, as well as the girls’ hard work and family support.”

Lorraine’s also celebrating the achievements of younger students, Jessica Qualet, Emily Markham and Alyza Silva, who scored 98, 99 and 100 per cent marks in recent exams.

“In all the years I have been teaching, I have never had a 100 marks score for an exam,” she said. “It’s unbelievable for Alyza to get that in her primary tap exam.”

Over all, more than 200 ISTD modern and tap and RAD ballet exams have been taken with a 90 per cent distinction pass rate for the Farmer Parr’s Animal World-based dance school.

The year has also seen success for past students, including Lucy Fallon, who’s currently starring in Coronation Street as Bethany Platt - having had to reject a place at top school Mountview last year due to costs - and Jon Ward, who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent as part of the Beat Brothers tap dance group.

Both have returned to the school to say thank you to Lorraine and the team.