Celebrating 10 years of START

Published on Monday 18 March, 2019

On Thursday 14 March we held our final START matinee performance after 10 years of delivery. This year’s students took a trip to the Leeds Grand Theatre to see our latest production Victoria.

The START project was established in 2008 by Northern Ballet’s Learning Department. It introduces young people who may have limited access to the arts due to their social, cultural or economic background to high-quality dance and performance.

As part of the project, participants take part in workshops which introduce them to ballet and creative movement with the Learning team. In these workshops, they also explore a Northern Ballet production, which they then go to see at the theatre. Each school group sees 2-3 Northern Ballet productions per year at theatres across the region including Leeds Grand Theatre, the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre and the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford.

The impact of the START project has been an incredible success for the Northern Ballet Learning team. It has enabled us to work with pupils from schools across our region who would not have had the opportunity to experience ballet without it. After 10 incredible years, it’s time for us to look to the future and explore news ways for us to work with local schools. For now, we want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and taken part in START - it has been a joy.

Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning, Northern Ballet

START project highlights

  • 11 projects over 10 years of delivery
  • 208 Yorkshire schools: covering both primary and secondary
  • 400 workshops with approximately 7,860 participants
  • 22 START matinees
  • Some participants have been ‘Spotted’ to take further training with the Academy of Northern Ballet

START is very close to our hearts and we have thoroughly enjoyed delivering this exciting opportunity with young people throughout the region over the last ten fantastic years. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported START, from our generous funders to the school teachers and of course the brilliant pupils we have worked with over the last 10 years.

We will miss START but are looking forward to what the future holds with our new pilot schools project, RISE, launching this autumn. RISE will use ballet and creative movement to support schools in delivering an exciting and inspiring health and wellbeing curriculum with a focus on pupils’ physical and mental wellbeing.

To find out more about how your school could work with Northern Ballet, please click here.

The performance was really good, I like the way the characters expressed their emotions... I also liked the workshops that you did in our school, we did some dancing and some of the moves that the characters did in the show.

Year 5 pupil, Newby Primary School, Bradford

Most of these children have never been outside of Leeds. They lead very insular lives and wouldn’t set foot in the Grand Theatre. START breaks down barriers and lets them do something that they have never done.

Teacher, Hugh Gaitskell Primary School, Leeds

The entire process has raised the students' confidence and self-esteem, which has improved their engagement levels and involvement in both dance and other subjects. The creative side of the workshops really helped them to work together with their peers, and not be afraid of making mistakes.

Teacher, Priesthorpe School, Leeds