News. Ballet lessons at Dumfries House

10th of August, 2017

In their lavender leotards, tights and ballet shoes, the girls practising their sautés and grands battements at Dumfries House look like those in any other young dance class. As it happens, the course known as RCS at DH is run by Megan Peasgood, a former ballerina and teacher with Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The classes and uniforms are being provided free to these local children by the Dumfries House Trust.

This outreach programme has been up and running since January; it now includes 10 children who were found at Ayrshire schools and invited to audition. Most are nine years old and Peasgood says they’re thriving. “They’ve grown together over the past few months, which has been lovely to watch,” she says. “They’ve really taken this opportunity on board: they’re committed, they come every week, they have their uniform on, they have great etiquette and we have a really good time.”

Her goal is to instil in the children the basic elements of ballet: the impeccable posture, stretched legs and essential positions that are the building blocks of the discipline. By Easter, she could see it beginning to click: “They were thinking about it and then applying that and putting it into their bodies and their muscles. I think it’s a really nice thing to see at the tender age of nine – them really being able to connect on both a mental and physical level.”

All 10 of the girls – so far, the class is all female, though they would welcome boys – have potential. If they continue to work hard and enjoy it, they could feed into the Conservatoire’s junior programme and even take the Scottish Ballet’s BA Modern Ballet course, suggests Peasgood: “They’re all very gifted and we’re getting them ready, instilling all of the techniques necessary to deliver them to that route.” The pride that she takes in Ayrshire’s young talent is unmistakable. “I’m just so impressed with them,” she adds.

Words: Hattie Crisell

Photography: Lisa Boyd