Lisa-Sofia’s Story

Elly Welford Photography
Photo credit: Elly Welford Photography

“I moved to Leicester when I was four years old from Germany and I started ballet around the same time. All through school all I wanted to do was to become a dancer. I did a BA(Hons) at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. I then auditioned for their Post Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme MA, and joined Company Chameleon (Manchester) as an apprentice dancer. I’m from a low-income family and my mum is a self-employed single parent. My student loan would not have been enough to pay for the course and live on. I would have had to work - but this would have been virtually impossible due to the intensity of the apprenticeship and the hours. We were there from 9am until 6pm during the week, and often worked at weekends too.
I applied to the Foundation to support my course fees so that I could get the most out of this opportunity. I’d been really unwell with daily migraines during my 3rd year, so I hadn’t been able to work and save money. With the grant helping towards my course fees, it meant that more of my student loan could be used for rent, travel and food. It helped to have my full attention on my learning and not stress about how I was going to afford the course. It meant that the pressure was taken off me in terms of not having to work alongside a very demanding course.

From doing the apprenticeship, I have met a new network of people and gained some valuable industry experience. Company Chameleon taught me how to work in a company and other skills such as teaching and supporting young people. I got to premier in a brand-new piece and I learnt a lot about myself during that rehearsal process. I have already been working professionally. During the Covid-19 lockdown, I did a project with Birmingham Dance Network over Zoom. I have been teaching my own dance classes for kids, coaching a girl who wants to train professionally and working for my old ballet school. I feel this experience has equipped me for my life in this industry and I know that I can always reach out to the Company if I need support. When I finish my MA, I would be able to teach contemporary dance at university/conservatoire level should I wish to in the future. It has made my dream a reality.

It is so hard as a dancer to find any support at post graduate level. I was very grateful to have such a massive weight off my shoulders financially. I was expecting the interview process to be really scary, but it wasn’t - the panel were lovely and made me feel at ease. It is indeed refreshing to know that people out there do care and that you can make things happen if you put the work in! Thank you so much!”