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Ballet school gives free classes to kids

Words by Smiley Team

Newcastle’s most exciting ballet school is breaking the mould through free classes, bringing creativity to those you might least expect.

The balletLORENT Youth Academy, a pilot project from Newcastle, believes strongly that creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. Rather than the prestigious and stringent measures placed on other ballet schools, to get into balletLORENT you just need to have a little vim and vigour.

Each of the 16 children who attend these free dance classes were spotted when balletLORENT held creative workshops in their schools, and were noticed for their potential. 

“[balletLORENT] prides itself on spotting creative talent, aptitude and flair that schools and teachers may miss in the busy classroom environment,” they said in a press release. 

Many of the children who attend dance classes have additional needs, such as ADHD or Tourettes, and others come from more disadvantaged areas in Newcastle. To balletLORENT, it doesn’t matter - they want to bring the gift of creativity to everyone. 

"One of the things that is very different from other dance schools is that it's all free,” said balletLORENT. “The Academy also includes chaperoned transport, food, healthy snacks at all sessions and a sensory zone where children can go to sit, relax, draw and take some time out. It was very important to us to have a space that’s welcoming and available for everyone.”

The classes aren’t about an ‘end result’ either, instead focusing on fostering creativity and self-expression in children who might get missed by the system otherwise. Some of the children have even performed on stage alongside the balletLORENT professional dancers. 

Rather than taking their students through the grade system, balletLORENT instead chooses to focus on teaching the children to be creative and comfortable in their own bodies and the world around them. 

In addition to their weekly after school sessions, balletLORENT runs intensive holiday sessions. These are also free, and the children who attend receive healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.

"Dara has become a lot more creative and generally wants to explore,” said Yinka Okeowo, mum to Dara, aged 9, who attends the balletLORENT classes. “He is not afraid to try new things and he is able to use his imagination to turn out brilliant crafts … It's amazing seeing his spatial balance has improved as he is constantly trying to push himself beyond his limits.”

Dara began attending balletLORENT with his cousin, Grace aged 8, after they were spotted by The Academy during a Zoom class. Since then, the pair have come into their own, and Grace has even decided on a new career path.

"My friends think I’m very good at ballet and creative dancing and I do shows for them and show them steps. Lots of them want to start dancing now as well,” she said to balletLORENT. "I want to work in the theatre doing dancing, ballet or singing."

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can help support the arts for disadvantaged children by getting involved with charities such as the ArtSocial Foundation.

VOLUNTEER: You can help raise funds for Create, another charity who supports disadvantaged children through the arts, by taking part in their annual fundraising run.

SUPPORT: You can support balletLORENT and their pilot programme through their website.

GET INVOLVED: Help give disadvantaged children creative art grants and bursaries through the National Youth Arts Trust.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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