“We went down the route that if we couldn’t find anyone who was good enough to win The Stage Scholarship, then we wouldn’t award it,” says Chriss Campbell Welch, of Tiffany Theatre College. “It needed to be a whole package for us and that’s what we got from the pair of them.”
The pair of them being Kira-Malou Youren, who is 17 and comes from Southampton, and Daryl Ormesher, 23, from Peterborough. Tiffany Theatre College is in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, and Chriss Campbell Welch is a director. She founded the school more than 40 years ago and the full- time college grew naturally as an extension of the school.
Kira and Daryl have each been awarded a scholarship to attend Tiffany Theatre College. Each scholarship is worth £21,000 and will cover the tuition fees for the college’s two year, full-time performing arts diploma course. When Daryl sums up his situation his words are heartfelt. “There is no way I could have thought about training without this scholarship,” he says. “Without help like this, my ambition to be a professional dancer would have to be over.”
The college has a small intake, enabling its tutors to spend more time with each student. They aim to accomplish in two years what would normally take three. Campbell Welch has a waiting list of West End choreographers and directors who want to work with Tiffany students.
“You walk in there and straight away you get the feeling of community,” says Kira. “They push you to the best of your ability. Even in the audition we were being pushed. “The ballet teacher was incredible. She was from the Royal Ballet and her developpes were up round her ears. That made me push myself even more because that’s how I want to look.”
Without the scholarship, further training for Kira would also have been a struggle, so she was very pleased to be selected.
“I was shocked to win because I was up against some really amazing girls – the standard is so high,” she says. “The scholarship has given me a confidence boost. I want to try harder to prove to people that I deserve it.”
Daryl was struck by the cosy, welcoming atmosphere at Tiffany’s and the sheer intensity of the audition. “I was constantly trying to keep up,” he says. “At the ballet barre the audition panel were pretty close to where I was. Every time I turned someone was looking at me, nearly face to face, and I thought, what are they thinking? I was surprised to get the scholarship because I’ve only been dancing for two years. I do love ballet and the ballet is good here.”
Campbell Welch recalls how the winners tackled one of the most important days of their lives: “What struck me about Daryl was he was focused and he continued to be so throughout the day. “He has had sound basic training so far and we can build on that and make him something very special.
“Daryl is keen to learn and that was demonstrated throughout the audition. The choreographers we had in with them, Anthony Whiteman and Elizabeth Greasley, noted how he was picking things up that he hadn’t dealt with before. He has masses of potential.
“Kira was just a joy from beginning to end. Her ballet was beautiful. We thought – yes, that’s obviously her strength, but then she moved on into the jazz and produced such excellent work. The same was true of her singing – she never let up. She is a stunning girl. Her conversation was lively and bright. She is going to be brilliant to work with.”
The work starts very soon – two years of intense but fun endeavour. Our two winners cannot wait to get started.