Backstage at The Lowry: Sally Wyatt, Youth Dance Co-ordinator

My name is Sally Wyatt and I’m the youth dance co-ordinator here at The Lowry.

I joined The Lowry in September 2007 and worked with the front of house and conference & events teams before the dance team was established five years ago within the community and education department, under the umbrella of NorthWestDance: The Lowry Youth Dance Partnership!

There are so many elements to my work and I love how varied each day is!

A large part of my role is co-ordinating The Lowry Centre for Advanced Training in Dance which identifies children from across the North West with exceptional potential in dance (but not necessarily with years of experience) and develops their talent through pioneering programmes; creating and inspiring future generations of world class dancers and choreographers.

Our 65 students train with us two to three times a week, and take part in creative projects throughout the year, often with the professional dance companies that visit The Lowry such as Akram Khan Company, Michael Clark Company, Wayne McGregor|Random Dance…the list goes on and on…

One major highlight of our five years has to be a main stage performance at The Royal Opera House called Hot House under the artistic direction of choirmaster Gareth Malone! Our biggest achievement has been our recent production, The Space Inside, a complex full length work in the round. It was a truly unique event showcasing the sheer talent and professionalism of the young people we work with.

The best thing about the CAT scheme is that it is funded by Means Tested Grants from the Department for Education Music and Dance Scheme so it is accessible for any young person, no matter their background or financial situation.

I also deliver a regional programme of youth dance work, maintaining the legacy of funding by Youth Dance England. The work aims to widen access to high quality dance opportunities for all young people in the North West. This, for example, includes delivering the annual Regional Youth Dance Performance Platform U.Dance NW based at The Lowry, which gives young people from across the region the opportunity to come together in two fantastic days of workshops and performances in our Quays Theatre.

I also manage the regional dance website www.northwestdance.org.uk; an online one-stop-shop for the regions young people and artists to share their excellent work with each other!

We have developed The Lowry Youth Dance Ambassador Scheme in partnership with marketing department which works to give young people a voice within the dance world and develop dance audiences through peer to peer advocacy. We are also currently working with Re:Bourne & New Adventures to develop a production of Lord of The Flies at The Lowry in April & have worked with 600 young men from all areas of the North West before casting 24 to perform alongside professional dancers from Matthew Bourne’s company!

There’s never a dull moment in our office! No day is the same, there’s always something exciting going on, whether it’s Britain’s Got Talent hopefuls singing at our door, dressing up to the nines for The Royal Variety performance or hearing an amusing back stage call… ‘Munchkins to the stage please’. But if I had to pick two things personal to me I think it would have to be seeing Margot Fonteyn’s Firebird costume on display for the very last time in our Invitation to The Ballet exhibition and the time I had the opportunity to sing on stage with a choir for Carlos Acosta’s Premiers Plus!

There have been so many highlights, but the most rewarding thing is my role in supporting young people every day to work towards achieving their dreams.

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