A girl from Rotherfield training with the world famous Royal Ballet School could be forced to leave the prestigious dance academy because of the impact of coronavirus.
Florence Fraser, 12, has just started her second year at the renowned ballet school in London. She joined at the beginning of Year 7 after a successful audition in which 750 young dancers from around the world competed for just 24 places.
But now that hard-won achievement is under threat as her family’s income has been halved. Her mother is a freelance violinist who has not been able to perform since March and is struggling to pay the school’s tuition and boarding fees.
Sioni Williams, 46, usually plays with top London orchestras including the London Philharmonic. But with concert halls closed because of the pandemic there is very little work for freelance musicians and not much chance of it returning for the foreseeable future.
We are relatively lucky as my husband still works, but it’s a real struggle to pay the fees and we might have to pull Flossie out of the school.
A place at the Royal Ballet School costs over £35,000 a year. The Government offers UK students means-tested support, but a substantial sum still has to be met by parents as the grant does not cover all of the fees nor items such as ballet shoes, uniform or music lessons.
The Frasers have set up a Go Fund Me page to try to raise money to pay this year’s fees. They also hope that a benevolent philanthropist or local business might sponsor Florence so she can continue to follow her passion for dance.
Flossie will be heartbroken if we have to pull her out of the Royal Ballet school. She worked so hard to win a place there and absolutely loves every minute. Leaving the school could ruin her dream of becoming a professional ballerina.
The Royal Ballet School is one of the world’s greatest centres of classical ballet training, which for generations has produced dancers and choreographers of international renown. From Margot Fonteyn, Darcey Bussell and Kenneth MacMillan, to a new generation currently making its mark on the world stage, including Matthew Ball, Steven McRae and Yasmine Naghdi.
Admission to the school is based on talent and potential, regardless of academic ability or personal circumstances. Nearly 90 per cent of students rely on financial support to attend the school.