Joseph Poulton and Dale Rhodes were 2 of the original students we took onto our Professional training programme (CAT) in its pilot year in 2004. They both graduated from the Academy 2008.
This week they have been back in to visit us all and I managed to have a quick chat with them about their training and their time at Northern Ballet Academy.
So how come you are back?
Joseph: I’m on my summer break and will be going back down to London in a few weeks to start my second year as a dancer with Ballet Black.
What have you been up to since you graduated from the Academy?
Joseph: Once I graduated I did my first year of full time training at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and then 2 years at Central School of Ballet. I was offered a contract with Ballet Black at the end of my third year and have been dancing with them for the past year. It’s amazing to be taking class each day at the Royal Opera House (Ballet Black is a resident company there). I have even had the opportunity to take class with the Royal Ballet a few times.
Dale: After graduating from the Academy I did two years at English National Ballet School and then went onto The Ballet School of Hamburg Ballet. I have just graduated and have been offered a contract with Hamburg Ballet which is a dream come true. I toured with the company last year and had the opportunity to go to China which was amazing. I’m really excited about the next year.
What is your favourite memory of your time at Northern Ballet Academy?
Joseph: In our final year Dale and I went down to Ipswich to perform at DanceEast. It was a really funny weekend. We took part in workshops during the day and then performed that night- it was really fun- Dale and Joseph on tour!
Dale: Yeah I’ve got lots of funny memories from that weekend although the train seemed to take forever! I’ve got loads of good memories from my time at Northern- mostly involving Yoko and all her brilliant phrases!
What was the most important thing you learnt at Northern Ballet Academy?
Dale: To work hard for yourself. It has to come from you and if you really want it you have to just push yourself. Sometimes we found it hard because Yoko expected an awful lot from us but now I realise that it’s because she knows how tough the business is and she wants to see you go and grab it yourself.
Joseph: I think I definitely learnt to be more responsible. You can’t just rely on your parents for everything because you are having to juggle dancing on top of school work. I had to become really organised.
Do you think the CAT programme helped you to get to where you are today?
Dale: Yes! It set me up for professional life. Seeing the Northern Ballet Company dancers each day allowed me to really grasp what the job was going to be like. Yoko insists that all students behave professionally and she doesn’t let you get away with much.
Joseph: I agree. I think the CAT programme taught me to be realistic and to be grounded. In full time training you are in a bit of a bubble because everything around you is about dance. On the CAT programme you still live at home and go to regular school, this keeps you grounded because not everything is ballet, ballet, ballet. I think sometimes you need a bit of an escape from that.
What is different about Yoko’s technique to other styles you have studied?
Joseph: It’s very holistic- like medicine for the body.
Dale: Ha- like green tea! It’s good to come back and get another dose to top you up for the year. It aligns the body and helps prevent injury.
Joseph: I like it because it’s a fusion of so many basic principles so just seems to make sense.
Dale: Yoko relates everything to not just ballet but to a way of life which is great.
What advice would you give to our new students who have joined the CAT programme this week?
Joseph: Don’t be scared- everyone will be pushing you just because they want you to succeed.
Dale: Don’t forget your equipment and NEVER be late for class! Also- if your teachers say something that doesn’t make sense at the time- file it away because in a few years you will then realise why they said it. Yoko is psychic!
Joseph: Act professionally and always work as hard as you possibly can- you can never go back in time so if you don’t do it now you might regret it.
And on that note Dale and Joseph left the building- just like old times- making fun of each other and laughing hysterically.
Dale off to Germany and Joseph back down to London.
I just hope we will see them again soon- for another top up of Northern Ballet.