Ballet student Heather McGowan heads for the Bolshoi

Ballet student Heather McGowan to dance at the Bolshoi Academy

Regular Ballet News readers will know that I’ve been following the fortunes of 16 year old Heather McGowan, a ballet student at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, Hertfordshire.  Heather recently won a place at the Bolshoi Academy – one of only a handful of Britons ever to be selected. Being offered such a rare opportunity came as a shock to Heather and her family, who have worked tirelessly since the news arrived, to make Heather’s dream come true. 

ballet dancer smiles to camera

Photography throughout : Daniel Paul Jones

It was only thanks to the generousity of some Ballet News readers and anonymous donors that Heather has been able to take up her place at the Bolshoi Academy as it costs around £15,000 per year. Her course lasts four years, which means that the fund-raising efforts continue.  If you feel that you’d like to contribute anything at all – for example one donor has paid for Heather to begin learning Russian before she leaves – please get in touch.  It really doesn’t matter how great or small the amount and all donations are gratefully received. If you prefer to help with Heather’s pointe shoes, or with the cost of flights, or if you are in a position to help with any of Heather’s ballet training costs, please do make contact with me.

I do want to thank those Ballet News readers who have been so wonderfully generous already – without you Heather wouldn’t be going. Thank you !

The ballet dancer photographs the dancer

Heather will be leaving for Russia in August, but I caught up with her today with photographer Daniel Paul Jones (a Soloist with English National Ballet) to freeze-frame a moment in time as her last week at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts approaches.  I specifically wanted to commission a ballet dancer/photographer because as Heather is still a student it’s important that she is directed in the photographs to achieve the best. 

Heather worked very hard, listening to direction and picking up the steps quickly.  A photo shoot is a different beast to a performance, and for us it was important to showcase different aspects of Heather’s repertoire.  For her part, Heather had to maintain the positions for longer than she would in performance, without them ever looking forced or unnatural, hitting the right spot in just the right direction.  With all this going on it can be hard to remember to smile.  By the end, Heather was laughing so much that she found it harder to keep a serious face when called for !

I will be keeping in touch with Heather and will be bringing you the latest news as she heads off to Russia next month.

Photography throughout © Daniel Paul Jones

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5 Responses to Ballet student Heather McGowan heads for the Bolshoi

  1. Louise Williams July 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I would happily sponsor Heather for 5 pairs of pointe shoes each year – let me know how I can go about making a contribution.



  2. Ballet News July 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Louise – thank you so much for your extremely generous offer. It’s very much appreciated. Heather’s family will be in touch with you shortly to sort out the details. Thank you!

  3. Rachel @ Inspiration in Italy July 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    She is lovely, and seems like such a hard worker & so dedicated!


  4. Couture Carrie July 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Congrats to her!
    Beautiful photos!


  5. Ballet News July 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    thank you Rachel & Couture Carrie !