Founded in 1946, the prestigious Bird College focuses on long-term employability and provides training in every discipline, with a friendly, collaborative approach to tuition
At Bird College, the students come first. Whatever course they are on – the three-year Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre, the three-year BA Honours Degree in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre, the Pre-Professional Foundation Year, or any of the college’s part-time programmes – students find themselves at the heart of an exciting and innovative educational institution that prioritises their needs and their choices.
“At Bird College, on every course, students will receive outstanding training in every discipline – acting, dancing, singing and musical theatre,” says joint principal and artistic director Luis De Abreu. “Then they can discover what their strengths and career aspirations are and focus on those as they progress. We will adjust the balance of each discipline to suit them. It is all about long-term employability.”
Founded by the legendary Doreen Bird in 1946, Bird College is one of the most prestigious conservatoires in the country, having produced countless professional performers over nearly 75 years of training. It is based in the leafy suburb of Sidcup in south-east London, where its recently renovated campus boasts state-of-the-art studios and a 130-seat theatre, as well as superb transport links to Central London.
“We have a very well-equipped facility, which enables us to provide the best technical support for our students’ training and their productions,” De Abreu says. “Our young artists tend to live in student accommodation nearby, and there is always a vibrant, friendly and supportive atmosphere on our busy campus. And we are only 25 minutes from London’s West End and the world-class theatre there.”
Bird College’s two full-time, Level 6 vocational programmes – the Diploma and the BA (hons) Degree – focus on professional training underpinned by theoretical practice. They are both taught by the college’s expert faculty, alongside a range of visiting tutors.
“Our faculty members are not only highly qualified, they are also artists in their own right, and bring with them a wealth of experience from working within the performing arts industry,” says De Abreu. “We are always reflecting on our methodology and practice, updating our own skills, and developing and growing as a conservatoire to make sure we remain at the forefront of professional dance and musical theatre training.”
Bird College’s ethos of continuous development is reflected in the changes it has made as a result of recent events. The college has responded rapidly to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, re-emphasising its commitment to diversity by appointing a new patron and three new board members with the express ambition of delivering meaningful change to ensure equal and fair representation for its staff and students throughout the institution.
It has also “gone above and beyond government safety measures” relating to Covid-19, says De Abreu, ensuring students can learn in safe environments without compromising on the quality of their education.
Interested students can apply to study at Bird College via UCAS, or by directly contacting the college. Auditions are currently taking place via video submissions, but face-to-face auditions will resume when possible. To ensure that anyone who earns a place can attend, bursaries can be provided depending on personal circumstances.
And what sort of student is Bird College interested in? “We want to see applications from young, talented, vibrant individuals who demonstrate artistic and technical potential and have the facility to thrive over three years of hard work,” says De Abreu. “But we are also looking for nice people. We want students who are willing to collaborate and work with others, students who have a professional approach and are great company members. Because that is how you succeed in the industry.”
For more information, visit bird-college.com