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The Stage Scholarships 2013: Stella Mann

Stella Mann College of Performing Arts [1] is now entering its fourth year as a partner in The Stage Scholarship scheme. Three youngsters in succession have had their potential recognised and been given a great opportunity to train at this prestigious college. They have seized it with both hands. Indeed, they have hit the ground dancing. Now it is the turn of a fourth. Will it be you?

The Stage/Stella Mann College Scholarship covers training fees for the three-year Stella Mann dance diploma course and is worth £28,350. What a start that would be to your performing career – the chance to enjoy top training for three years at Stella Mann without the worry of paying course fees. You would be relieved, as would your parents or guardians.

It has been a poignant month for the college, as founder Stella Mann, a distinguished dancer and much loved dance teacher, passed away.

Current principal and owner Mary Breen took over the college in 1985, when it was located in Hampstead, and moved it to Bedford in 2003. “Stella offered the college to me,” she says. “I was a student and I came back as a member of staff. I had grown up with the college, really. I felt privileged to take it over – and also very lucky.”

In Bedford, the college moved into a building housing the dance studios of Middlesex University dance campus, which had been purpose-built and initially owned by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. So the facilities are second to none. Bedford is a peaceful university town with excellent transport links. London is a 50-minute train ride away. Students live within ten minutes’ walk of the college, in accommodation chosen by a trusted local agency, and there is a great sense of community.

Breen comments: “There are always notices going up in the college about parties and trips out – ‘We’re doing such and such this weekend – everyone invited’. It doesn’t matter whether they are first, second or third years, they all mix. We are a friendly, homely college. You can feel it. That’s what everyone says when they come for audition. We know who the students all are. They are quite individual to us. Our students have gone on into lots of different areas of performance, so there is room for them to be individual.”

She adds: “The thing I’m really proud of is the atmosphere in the college. Everyone feels included.”

There are numerous performance opportunities at the college, including an annual summer show, in which every student is involved. This is held at the Alban Arena, St Albans. And Stella Mann students will again be at Olympia in March for MoveIt/Perform, the annual, three-day dance and careers event sponsored by The Stage.

Students on the three-year dance course can study for the ISTD Level 3 Diploma in Dance Instruction qualification. Achieve two teaching qualifications and you will be awarded the Stella Mann College Teaching Diploma. A teaching qualification is useful for periods in between dance jobs and the very act of teaching dance will sharpen up your own technique.

Integrated professional studies include insurance for performers and management of finances and self-assessment (and the latter is absolutely vital).

So, there you are. A life-changing opportunity for someone to enjoy thorough, top-quality training in dance without the worry of course fees. What will the audition panel at Stella Mann be looking for?

“Potential,” says Breen. And she and her staff have the experience to spot it. “When they leave here they will have a professional attitude and many strings to their bows. They have the choice to be what they want to be.”

If you have the potential and the drive, then talk to your parents or guardians, ask them what they think, and check the audition dates and fill in the form for The Stage/Stella Mann College Scholarship here [2].

Read Stella Mann’s obituary [3]