Nineteen-year-old Katelyn Greenwood was so nervous in the run up to her first audition at Stella Mann College of Performing Arts that she nearly didn’t take the train from her home in Bournemouth to Bedford, where the school is based.
Fortunately, she decided to go on that journey and, as a result, became the recipient of last year’s Stella Mann scholarship in association with The Stage. Katelyn had the opportunity to train for three years at one of Britain’s most renowned dance institutes without having to pay a penny in tuition fees.
“In my time at Stella Mann, I feel I have gained so much more experience in a wider range of dance styles that I previously hadn’t encountered. I can’t wait to see what challenges I have to face in these years to come,” says Katelyn.
Now, for the sixth year running, Stella Mann is offering one talented student the chance to join the three-year diploma course in performing arts, a package worth an impressive £28,035.
According to principal Mary Breen, Katelyn has flourished since joining the college in September 2014 and has proven to be a tremendous asset. Breen describes how the scholarship winner and her peers are able to benefit from “an unparalleled diversity of professional training in many dance disciplines and musical theatre skills, which gives our graduates great versatility and access to a range of employment opportunities.”
“We have had graduates secure work in areas as diverse as commercial dance, West End musicals, Hollywood films, pop groups and high-profile TV series.”
Based in the university town of Bedford since 2003, the college lies in easy reach of London, less than one hour away by train, but the cost of living is cheaper and there is a surplus of accommodation. Its facilities are top-notch – the premises were previously owned by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and then it switched to being the dance campus for Middlesex University.
Students can study for the ISTD’s level three dance certificate and there is a chance to train for the college’s diploma in teaching. The diploma course is accredited by Trinity College London.
Work is not limited to the classroom. Like most colleges, Stella Mann offers numerous performance opportunities culminating in an annual summer show – in this case held at the Alban Arena in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Breen adds: “We welcome students aged 16 and over, including overseas students. This gives the college a diverse community with an ethos that encourages a strong work ethic in a very warm and encouraging atmosphere.”
So what kind of qualities are members of the Stella Mann audition panel looking for in young performers applying for the scholarship? Course leader Jonathan Rees says: “The college has a strong ethos of treating all students as individuals and nurturing each student’s particular talents and ambitions to the full. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds, and believe that passion and potential is as important as experience when students begin training with us.”
Stella Mann has found the relationship with The Stage to be most beneficial, as Rees confirms: “It raises the profile of the college to be affiliated to the country’s foremost theatrical publication, but the scholarship system also allows exceptionally talented students to access high- quality training that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”
When Katelyn won the 2014 scholarship, she felt intimidated about moving to such a high-profile school as Stella Mann. But she was overwhelmed by how welcoming it was. “You always feel included and treated like an individual. It feels like home,” she says.
Does such a nurturing atmosphere sound like the perfect place for you to train? If so, the check the details below on how to apply.