I didn’t know what to do after sixth form – The Garage led me to where I am today says ex-HNC student Eleanor

Eleanor surrounded by some of this year's Summer Production cast of Treasure Island

Summer Production volunteer Eleanor Weston knows how everyone opening their A-Level results this week feels.

After finishing sixth form in 2019, she decided to take a gap year. 

Eleanor recalls: “I really didn’t know what to do. I thought I didn’t want to move away to uni. I did drama and theatre at GCSE and A-Level and started taking evening contemporary dance and ballet classes at The Garage.”

Then she saw a flyer for our HNC Programme in the Performing Arts.

“I was like, ‘oh my God, I love dancing, that’s what I need to do’. So, it was perfect timing. Four months in and I thought ‘I’m going to uni’.

“I hadn’t been ready before, but the HNC definitely opened my eyes to lots of different opportunities and different ways of doing things.

“I went into it very shy. I didn’t like performing in front of people. By the end we were all just very loud and very confident. I’d sung in front of everyone by myself like 20 times…

“It was hard work. They throw you in at the deep end. But it’s led me to where I am today.”

Eleanor applied for the dance programme at the University of Suffolk in association with DanceEast. She also applied for the Royal Academy of Dance’s online Dance Education Degree. Accepted to both, she spent a long time choosing but went with the latter, recently gaining a first.

“The one with RAD was perfect. I wasn’t initially gonna apply and then Diccon [her former tutor at The Garage] said ‘you need to’. I was like ‘I’m never gonna get in’. I’m very thankful to him.”

Eleanor has been volunteering a lot since finishing her studies, including with Dance Youth. She was also on the board of the global dance conference Dancing with Decolonisation.

“We had conversations with dancers, choreographers, and educators about how we can work toward decolonising the dance curriculum. That’s what I did my dissertation research on, so it was a really great experience. I met a lot of people through that.

“I’ve had a few recent meetings with London Contemporary Dance School who heard about my research. We’ve talked about what they’re planning onsite with their curriculum, they’re keying me in on how they’re making changes. It’s very interesting to be on the inside. They’re going to use my research in their curriculum redesign. That’s very cool. A little strange, very imposter syndrome.

“I work in an infant school at the moment. We have breakfast and after school clubs. Any opportunity I get to make a show with them I do. I just accepted an offer to do a Masters in Education Studies online with the University of Portsmouth and then want to go into full-time teaching or dancing.”

Our Summer Production of Treasure Island ticks both boxes.

Eleanor, who is helping choreograph, numbers, says: “I’ve been really looking forward to this. The three years at RAD was essentially all theory. I have so much in my head now that I’m like ‘I want an opportunity to use it alongside the practical stuff I learned on the HNC’.

“The Garage is my safe haven. I’ve missed it. [That’s why] I emailed front-of-house and asked if there were any opportunities to volunteer. I just needed to practise my pirate voice!”

More than 50 young people aged 8-18 have spent the last two weeks putting together Treasure IslandTickets are still available for today and Saturday’s shows.

Our annual Summer Production is an amazing chance for young people to meet like-minded friends, raise their confidence, and have fun.

Next year’s Summer Production will be the all-singing, all-dancing Victorian vampire spectacular Dracula! which will give youngsters something to sink their teeth into. Booking is now open.

Thinking of gaining a performing arts qualification? Check out our GCSE Dance and GCSE Drama courses, and our HNC Programme in Performing Arts, and enquire about our next Introduction to the Creative Industries course.

We also have a free Introduction to HNC event on 24 August plus free GCSE Dance and GCSE Drama Masterclasses on 16 September.

Booking has opened for our autumn term of classes. Term begins 11 September.

Our friendly front of house team are happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email info@thegarage.org.uk

Keep up to date with everything we’re up to by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on TwitterInstagram or Facebook. Check out our blogs too.

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