Dance Students Take Centre Stage at The Hippodrome


L-R: Dance students, Faye Bolan and Jake Rowley

Two Talented Walsall College Dance students beat off competition from other young dancers across the Midlands and were selected to perform the ‘curtain raiser’ at the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre on Wednesday 8th February.

Level 3 students at the college, Faye Bolan (17) and Jake Rowley (17) took to the stage as part of an ensemble and performed a three-minute dance piece before Mathew Bourne’s production of ‘Red Shoes’.  The short piece was a brand new dance inspired by themes from the main show.

The students were given the honour after impressing a judge during the audition process, where hundreds of hopefuls tried out and only 16 were selected. They attended regular rehearsals and worked with a professional choreographer and members of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures cast.

Sir Matthew Bourne OBE is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer and director. He is the creator of the world’s longest running ballet production, a five-time Olivier Award winner, and the only British director to have won the Tony Award for both Best Choreographer and Best Director of a Musical.

The curtain raiser is part of Hippodrome Creative’s continuing relationship with Sir Matthew and his company which, through his charitable arm Re:Bourne, aims to highlight the emerging talent of local dancers and student choreographers.

Performing Arts Lecturer at Walsall College, Faye Cox said: “We are very proud of the students as to have been only one of handful of dancers chosen to perform is a massive achievement in itself. They both gave exceptional performances on stage.

“It has been a fantastic chance for the students to build up their experience of performing to a live audience and working in a professional environment.

“This is the sixth consecutive year that Walsall College students have been selected for the prestigious curtain raiser for of a Mathew Bourne production in its eight-year history, which is a testament to the commitment of our staff and students in striving for high standards in their work.”

Student, Jake Rowley, said: “The whole experience has been very challenging but all the hard work was worth it. Performing in front of a large crowd was amazing.”

Student, Faye Bolan said: “This is the second curtain raiser I have performed in as I was also selected last year. I enjoyed every minute of it and feel I’ve learnt a lot about what it’s like being a professional dancer and the direction I want to go in after completing my course.”

Places are still available for Dance courses starting in September. For more information, please visit

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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