2020 Awardee: Rosie Dignan

rosie dignan

"Coming from a low income family, I didn’t think I’d have the chance to attend any kind of training, but thanks to funding from [the Dewar Arts Awards] I’ve been able to develop my skills immensely and have been accepted to one of my dream schools."

Biography

Born and raised in Dundee, Rosie was surrounded by dancers, artists, and performers as a child. She soon became part of the Scottish Dance Theatre’s junior company, with whom she performed at many venues around Scotland. This gave her plenty of early experience as well as the chance to work with choreographers such as Botis Seva and Joan Cleville.

Rosie has been involved in Amateur Dramatics since the age of 8, and has held lead roles in many performances including Godspell, The Wiz, and 42nd Street. She has also been a part of Dundee Schools Music Theatre since her second year at school.

Throughout her early teens, Rosie attended regular youth theatre sessions in Dundee, which were the highlight of her week, before being accepted into level 1 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Junior School of Musical Theatre during her sixth year of school.

Upon completion of her second year at RCS Juniors, she was hand-picked by Miss Laine at Laine Theatre Arts to study musical theatre, being one of the first people accepted onto the course.

How the Award Helped

Rosie was able to further her musical theatre studies at Laine Theatre Arts thanks to her Dewar Arts Award.

rosie dignan

"Coming from a low income family, I didn’t think I’d have the chance to attend any kind of training, but thanks to funding from [the Dewar Arts Awards] I’ve been able to develop my skills immensely and have been accepted to one of my dream schools."

Awardee: Tony Polo

"The Dewar Arts Award has given me the opportunity to train at my dream school and for that I am incredibly grateful. Without their generosity I am not sure how or if I would have managed."

Biography

Since 2016, dance has been a huge part of Tony Polo’s life. He began his journey at Dance Studio Scotland in Anniesland. At that time he was 18 years old and had no prior experience, so he felt very out of his depth. However, as time passed he learned that with hard work and determination he was able to do accomplish his ambitions.

Tony’s training at Dance Studio Scotland was very broad, encapsulating various styles of dance including Ballet, Contemporary, Tap and Jazz. He was also able to work with dancers and choreographers from all over the world, most notably in a Merce Cunningham and John Cage project with Julie Cunningham in Glasgow. Alongside his peers he performed a segment from legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham’s piece ‘Second Hand’.

In 2019, Tony auditioned for the Scottish Ballet’s Youth Exchange Programme. He was successful in gaining a place, which allowed him to work with many highly skilled choreographers. He and also had the enviable chance to perform in New York and in Italy as part of the prestigious Torino Danza Festival.

Tony says he has had some of the best experiences of his life through dance, including being featured in a professional music video for the song ‘Magnetic’ by Seafret and performing on stage as part of the annual show with Dance Studio Scotland entitled ‘Pulse’.

Tony has also had the opportunity to teach. As part of a work placement, he shadowed staff at the Scottish Ballet while they taught classes to people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. In the final week he was also able to teach his own class, and found the experience to be incredibly touching.

After graduating with an A from Dance Studio Scotland, Tony auditioned and gained a place at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. He hopes in the future be part of a touring contemporary dance company.

How the Award Helped

Tony’s Award supported his studies at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

"The Dewar Arts Award has given me the opportunity to train at my dream school and for that I am incredibly grateful. Without their generosity I am not sure how or if I would have managed."

2020 Awardee: Anya Phillips

Anya Phillips

"Having this Dewar Award has meant that [Anya] could keep this journey going...without it it would have been impossible...Thank you so so much"

Biography

Anya is an accomplished ballet dancer, who started dancing at the young age of 2 1/2 at CSBS Falkirk. During her time there, she took part in many dance productions, as well as gaining the opportunity to feature in TV commercials, STV Children’s Appeal and a range of events.

Anya was successful in gaining a place in Scottish Ballet Junior Associates, Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and also SMB company with Sara Maria Barton.

During her time with the Scottish Ballet, Anya successfully auditioned for a place in ‘The Nutcracker’. She toured with the production to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle – and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity. She was then successful in auditioning for the Dance School of Scotland where she boarded for 4 years (and loved every minute).

In her fourth year at the Dance School of Scotland, Anya auditioned for a sought after place at the prestigious Central School of Ballet as well as Elmhurst Ballet School.  She was successful in both auditions, and decided to study at Central on the 3 year BA (Hons) course.

How the Award Helped

Anya received an Award to support her accommodation and living costs at the Central School of Ballet.

Anya Phillips

"Having this Dewar Award has meant that [Anya] could keep this journey going...without it it would have been impossible...Thank you so so much"

2019 Awardee: Kirsty Craig

"I am truly grateful to the Dewar Arts Awards for their tremendous generosity. Their belief and support has enabled me to take the next step in my career and fulfil my potential at a prestigious training establishment. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Biography

Kirsty Craig grew up in Glasgow and is a passionate dancer with strong determination.

Kirsty began attending The Studio in the West End of Glasgow in 2007 and continued through to her Award in 2019. During this time, Kirsty danced lead roles and achieved exceptional marks in her examinations, up to and including the Advanced 2 vocational Cecchetti Classical Ballet exam. She also worked towards her teaching Diploma in Dance Education (accredited by the ISTD).

From 2016 to 2019, Kirsty attended Dance Studio Scotland at Anniesland College and achieved an A grade in her HND Dance Artists course. Her versatility and skillset were broadened, including jazz, tap, contemporary and choreography skills. She also began tuition in singing and acting, enabling her to be a multi-faceted performer in preparation for auditions.

Alongside her many dancing commitments, Kirsty sustained a part-time job in retail to help her save money. A keen student, Kirsty was Head Girl at school and achieved 5 As in her Highers. She has also taken part in volunteering, completed both the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, and raised thousands of pounds for charity.

In Spring of 2019, Kirsty successfully auditioned for a competitive BA (Hons) Professional Dance and Musical Theatre course at Bird College in London. The panel (including the Principal and Artistic Director) were so impressed, she was offered a place on the day, without waiting the customary three-week period to hear an outcome.

Bird College offers excellent performance opportunities, world class facilities and leading industry professionals who equip their students with a plethora of skills and connections with the industry. Through studying at Bird College, Kirsty aims to achieve her dream of becoming a professional performer.

How the Award Helped

Due to the intense financial demands of studying in London, Kirsty applied for grants to alleviate the pressure. Without the help of the Dewar Arts Award and her teachers in Scotland, Kirsty says she would not have been able to train at her dream college.

"I am truly grateful to the Dewar Arts Awards for their tremendous generosity. Their belief and support has enabled me to take the next step in my career and fulfil my potential at a prestigious training establishment. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

2019 Awardee: Karah Pollock

"The Dewar Award has afforded Karah the opportunity to pursue her dream, an opportunity that would not otherwise have been available to her"

Biography

Born in Glasgow in 2002, Karah started her dance career in competitive freestyle at the tender age of three.   Showing a natural flair and talent from the outset, Karah won every major title she set her sights on throughout an impressive ten-year career.  She was scouted to participate in a Channel 4 documentary following her dance lifestyle.

Karah retired from competitive freestyle to pursue a dance education at the prestigious Dance School of Scotland, and after a successful audition was one of only nine students selected from thousands of auditionees to attend.

While at the Dance School of Scotland, Karah gained Adv 1 Ballet and Adv 1 Modern with Distinction.  She also earned the opportunity to tour Scotland with Scottish Ballet and was the youngest inductee of their Youth Exchange Programme touring New York and performing in the Joyce Theatre.

Karah then auditioned for the best Dance and Musical Theatre Colleges in the UK and was accepted for both Laine Theatre arts and the Urdang Academy.

How the Award Helped

Karah decided to continue her technical training at the Urdang Academy. She received a Dewar Award to support her studies on the BA (Hons) course in Musical Theatre and Dance.

"The Dewar Award has afforded Karah the opportunity to pursue her dream, an opportunity that would not otherwise have been available to her"

2019 Awardee: Jennifer Bruce

"Receiving this award has allowed me to study at my dream school Bird College...This truly does mean the world to me"

Biography

Jennifer became interested in the performing arts from a young age and began dance lessons when she was 5.  While at high school, she sought out additional opportunities to build her dance/performance skill set, and in 2014 successfully auditioned for the Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange with Singapore School of the Arts.

Continuing to improve her skills, Jennifer gained a place in the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland. This  allowed her to find her own artistry and confidence with improvisation, as well as performing internationally. Jennifer performed in India for the International Dance Bridges Festival, Australia with Yellowwheel Dance Company, and Groupe Grenade in Marseille, France.

Jennifer also expressed an interest in musical theatre, and in 2013 she had chance to perform as part of the Tom Daniels Musicals ensemble in Scotland’s Young Variety Show, followed by their annual musical production and Christmas show. She continued with singing lessons and annual showcases.

In June 2019, Jennifer completed her HND Dance Artists from Glasgow Clyde College. She went on to gain a place on the BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre at Bird College, one of the top schools in the UK to study the performing arts. This brought her another step closer to her dream of being a professional performer.

Jennifer loves the freedom of expression and escapism that performance provides, allowing her ‘to be anyone, anywhere at any time’ and share this with an audience.

How the Award Helped

Jennifer received a Dewar Arts Award to support her studies at Bird College, as well as helping her to buy necessary equipment including character shoes for singing and musical theatre classes, pointe shoes for ballet, and additional uniform and study materials.

"Receiving this award has allowed me to study at my dream school Bird College...This truly does mean the world to me"

2017 Awardee: Rory Swietlicki

"I am extremely grateful to the Dewar Arts Award for enabling me to attend the Central School of Ballet, and setting me on the path to gaining the experience and training to hopefully fulfil my dream of becoming a professional dancer."

Biography

Rory began dancing at a very young age, and has always shown passion, strong focus, and commitment to developing his skills to the highest level.

At age 12, Rory took part in a competitive audition process and gained a place at the prestigious Dance School of Scotland.  During his time at the school he was awarded the Progress Prize, took part in the school’s choreography performances, and performed in end of year shows at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow and The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. In 2013 he successfully auditioned for a part in Scottish Ballet’s production of Hansel & Gretel.   At the age of 16, Rory gained his RAD Advanced 1 (Ballet), ISTD Advanced 2 (National Dance), and ISTD Intermediate (Modern Dance) certificates.

In 2016, Rory was offered a place on the Scottish Ballet’s Youth Exchange Programme, where he attended weekly classes and workshops at Scottish Ballet.  This took much dedication and commitment as he took part in this alongside his dance school classes and studying for his National 5 exams.

Rory travelled to New York with the Youth Exchange group to collaborate with students from TISCH School of The Arts at New York University.  While there he had the opportunity to take classes at New York City Ballet.

At age 16, Rory competed against students from the UK and abroad for a place to study at the prestigious Central School of Ballet, London.  He was proud to be the only student in his year achieve this, and accepted a place on the BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Performance.

How the Award Helped

Rory’s Award supported him in attending the Central School of Ballet, and pursuing his chosen career.

"I am extremely grateful to the Dewar Arts Award for enabling me to attend the Central School of Ballet, and setting me on the path to gaining the experience and training to hopefully fulfil my dream of becoming a professional dancer."

2016 Awardee: Petre Dobre

"To put it simply, this award has totally changed my life."

Biography

Petre was born, raised and schooled in Craiova, southern Romania. Whilst at school he developed a love for performance including physical theatre, comedic mime and dance.

Petre joined the school dance group, No Limits, and over a six year period entered multiple competitions and toured both nationally and internationally. The group appeared on numerous TV shows including Romania’s Got Talent, fuelling Petre’s desire to become a professional performer.

Petre lost his hearing as a young child.  Through contact with Glasgow’s Solar Bear Theatre company, he discovered the new course for deaf actors being launched at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015. With no possibility of vocational performance training for the deaf in Romania, and finding an affinity to the city of Glasgow, . Petre became determined to gain a place on the ground-breaking BA Performance in BSL and English, and set about learning British Sign Language.

After a short audition process he was successfully accepted into the first cohort of the at the RCS, which opened his eyes to the wealth of disciplines and possibilities available in performance. As part of the programme, he was involved in the multi-media presentation ‘Dream On’ at Glasgow University celebrating Shakespeare 400, as well as acting in short films and several plays.

Petre’s dream for the future is to perform in theatre and film. He plans to be based in Scotland – his new home – and to combine his experience of dance and movement with new skills learned at the RCS. He aims to explore new visual theatrical forms of storytelling involving sign language and sign poetry, and to perform internationally.

How the Award Helped

This Award allowed Petre to continue his studies at the RCS, and to fully focus on his ambitions to become a performer. Without this support, he would have struggled to afford to stay in Glasgow and finish his degree.

Petre feels that, as a deaf actor, the opportunities that he has been able to access at the RCS have been exceptional, allowing him to develop skills and experience that he could not have achieved elsewhere. To put it simply, he says. this award has totally changed his life.

"To put it simply, this award has totally changed my life."

2016 Awardee: Harvey Littlefield

"I am extremely grateful to the trustees and all those who have believed in me. Without this award I may not have been able to continue to explore and develop to become the dancer I dream of being. I shall strive to work hard and embrace every moment."

Biography

Growing up in Glasgow, with both parents working in the arts, Harvey was never under any illusions about the dedication needed to pursue a career in ballet. He knew it could be brutal and exhausting, requiring total commitment and focus, but also how fantastic and rewarding this profession could potentially be.

At age 10, Harvey joined Scottish Ballet Junior Associates, where he was first inspired to focus on ballet. He then moved to the Dance School of Scotland, where he graduated in 2016 receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award.

In 2015, Harvey was one of around 200 young people throughout the world to apply to The English National Ballet School. He attended the summer school, and was offered a final audition without having to complete the preliminary stage. He successfully gained a place and became one of only two British boys in his year.

Harvey and his family are incredibly proud of his achievements to date, and feel he could not have done this without the support and commitment from his initial teachers in Scotland.  His ambition is to become a principle dancer in a ballet company, performing the well-loved classical ballets as well as new and exciting works.

How the Award Helped

Harvey’s Award assisted him in his further training, enabling him to build on the opportunities he received in Glasgow, and take him closer to achieving his dream.

"I am extremely grateful to the trustees and all those who have believed in me. Without this award I may not have been able to continue to explore and develop to become the dancer I dream of being. I shall strive to work hard and embrace every moment."

2016 Awardee: Robyn Casey

"Without the great help from Dewar Arts Awards I would not have the immense pleasure of being able to pursue this course. When I am at the pinnacle of my career I will be proud to be able to say that Dewar Arts Awards helped me get there.”

Biography

Hailing from Alexandria, Robyn began studying jazz, tap and ballet dancing at just two years of age. Her dream became to perform in one of her favourite musical theatre shows in the West End.

At the age of 17, Robyn joined Anniesland College to study an HND in Dance. This opened her eyes to other styles of dance as well as choreography.  She went on to audition for the BA Hons in Theatre Dance at London Studio Centre, and was successful in gaining a place.

In order to fundraise for her studies, Robyn taught regular classes in jazz and contemporary dance whilst in Glasgow.  She then supported herself through her first year by working in a local pub. This proved challenging, as she would finish college, work until 2am and then be up at 6:30am for her first class the next day.  The second year was set to be even more physically demanding, and so Robyn applied to the Dewar Arts Awards for financial assistance.

How the Award Helped

Robyn’s Dewar Award enabled her to continue her studies without financial pressure, allowing her to fully apply herself to achieving her ambitions.

"Without the great help from Dewar Arts Awards I would not have the immense pleasure of being able to pursue this course. When I am at the pinnacle of my career I will be proud to be able to say that Dewar Arts Awards helped me get there.”