Stonyhurst Ballerina students release 2015 calendar to raise funds for charity

PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 December 2014

LAN Jan15 Ballet school

LAN Jan15 Ballet school

caroline holden

A charity calendar featuring dance students at Stonyhurst College will help to provide local youngsters with much-needed holidays

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Caroline Holden thought she might have to drag the boys kicking and screaming to take part in her ballet photo-shoot. ‘In the end, I was pleasantly surprised,’ says the Preston photographer, who took the pictures for a charity calendar which will provide holidays for local children in special schools.

‘I think their willingness to take part shows that times are changing and the old outdated perceptions about ballet and ballet dancers are dying out. The truth is this is a gruelling business to be in and most ballet dancers these days have to spend a lot of their time in the gym.’

At the core of the shoot is the Stonyhurst Ballerina Project. ‘This is our part of an international scheme which pictures ballet dancers in beautiful locations around the world,’ adds Caroline. ‘We have our own beautiful locations here in Lancashire and, in particular, at Stonyhurst. Every time I go to the college I discover a new bit.’

It is run by head of dance Anna Southward and coach Andrea Morrison and they take children aged between six and 18. The college was recently awarded Artsmark Gold status, Arts Council England’s flagship programme to recognise and encourage arts and culture. Stonyhurst sees dance as an important part of the students’ development and they take part in ballet, tap, modern, contemporary, street dance, zumba and cheerleading.

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The school has forged strong educational links with the Birmingham Royal Ballet taking part in workshops with their beautiful productions of Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and, most recently, Beauty and the Beast.

‘It was quite a coup when they agreed to take part in our calendar shoot,’ says Caroline. The result is a mix of pictures from dance students around the grounds at Stonyhurst and professional dancers on stage in the workshop at the Lowry in Salford based on their Beauty and the Beast production.

‘It was tremendous to be allowed to include them in the calendar,’ she adds. ‘These workshops are part of their outreach scheme which also allows them to scout the regions for potential new dancers and spread their love for ballet.’

Part of the money raised will go towards The Stonyhurst Children’s Holiday Trust which provides a residential holiday at the college for special school pupils during the first week of the summer holiday.

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Dance Development will also benefit. This is a Stonyhurst project which opens up the dance department classes for children within the campus and from the local community. The remaining money will go to support Birmingham Royal Ballet, which relies on donations to help keep it running.

The calendar costs £6.50. If you would like to place an order, contact or call 01254 827238. 
Delivery charges will apply.

A life-long passion

Caroline Holden is a regular photographer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet as well as working with dance schools such as the Northern Ballet School, Stonyhurst Dance Academy and the Bristol Russian Ballet School. Her work is featured in Dancing Times and Dance Europe magazines.

‘It’s hard to say what it is that I love so much about photographing ballet. It’s not just the costumes and music, its capturing beauty and passion. Dance is part of who we are. From young dancers flexing their toes in their first soft ballet shoes - to going en pointe and leaping across stage – its perfection.

‘Wedding photography isn’t that dissimilar to ballet work. It’s living the fairytale. Stepping down from your carriage in a big white dress, surrounded by pretty attendants, walking into a palace with a formalised ceremony, and dancing with a handsome prince. I love it, and you get one shot at it like any performance.

‘But like in the great ballets, there is always the dark side – the hard work, sweat and tears. It is such a hard profession. The disappointments can be all consuming but my commitment will never die.’

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