Stoke Gifford dancer earns place on London academy programme

Photo of Grace Cousins dancing. Photo of Grace Cousins dancing.

Thirteen-year-old Grace Cousins, who is a member of the Stoke Gifford School of Dance, has successfully auditioned for a place on an associate programme at the prestigious Urdang performing arts academy in London.

Grace has been dancing since she was three years old and over the years has developed a love and passion for dancing, having performed in numerous shows and entered a variety of competitions.

The Urdang Academy, based in Islington, offers training in dance and musical theatre for students aged 16 and above, but starting in January 2019, it is offering places on an associate programme for students aged 10 and above. The course will have a strong focus on the core technical subjects and aims to produce strong, well-rounded dancers. It will cover the three basic dance styles of ballet, tap and jazz as well as offering acrobatic and technique classes. Grace is most looking forward to developing her ballet skills as this is her favourite style of dance. She said:

“I enjoy all styles of dance but my favourite is ballet because I’ve been growing up doing it and I enjoy dancing it. I’m also someone who likes having a good technique and being precise and neat, which is the main focus of ballet.”

Grace found out about the course from her dance teacher Miss Eve, who encouraged her to go and audition as it would be a good way to push her to becoming a better dancer. The audition took place on Sunday 2nd December 2018. Grace said:

“I felt quite confident about the audition so I didn’t need to prepare much. I just needed to show them some impressive moves and tricks in order to display my ability and to wow them. I felt like the audition went well; I showed my personality through my dancing and executed the steps well.”

Tuesday 4th December was the day Grace found out she had a place on the programme and she was, of course, delighted:

“I feel over the moon about getting a place. I’m so happy! I really think this will increase my dancing skill and will prepare me for the future. I do hope to have a career in dance. I would love to go to a dance college once I finish school and then go to a university that offers studies in dance. I hope to perform in shows, maybe perform with music artists and I even hope to tour the world someday, if I really work hard. All I’ve wanted to do since I was younger was have a career in dance. This course is the first step towards that future.”

Grace will start the course in January by attending the Urdang Academy every other Sunday for a full day of intense dance lessons. After a term, she will find out if she can continue on the course. The experience Grace will gain from the programme will be invaluable as she furthers her career in dance. Miss Eve, principal of Stoke Gifford School of Dance, is very pleased with Grace’s achievement, saying:

“The school and I are really proud of Grace for this amazing achievement. She is such a hard worker and this is a fantastic opportunity for her.”

Miss Eve is not the only person who has shown their delight towards Grace’s success as her mum, Liz Cousins, says:

“I am thrilled Grace is getting this opportunity to enhance her dance talents. She has loved dancing since she first started with Miss Eve and has been really nurtured at Stoke Gifford School of Dance. Any apprehension I had about the additional commitment in time, travel and costs pretty much evaporated when I saw how excited she was to have a place on this programme at such an amazing college. She was bursting with happiness. It means so much to her and I’m glad she is doing something that she is passionate about.”

If your child is interested in starting dance lessons, visit the Stoke Gifford School of Dance website at or visit their Facebook page to find out more about the classes available.

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal news magazine (on page 18). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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