Fostering a love of dance, experiencing the joy and excitement of moving as well as channelling the next generation of performers into further and higher education dance courses was what prompted the launch of Propeller – a three-year programme of dance training for 11 – 16 year olds across Cornwall.

Taught by professional dancers, with a programme of performances and visits as part of the project, the Propeller scheme is a partnership by Dance Republic 2 (DR2), Falmouth University and Cornwall College operating out of five centres across the county.

In 2016 DR2 successfully bid for £65,000 of funding from RIO as part of the Challenge Fund. This money, distributed over three years, was matched by new investment from Falmouth University and Cornwall College in both monetary terms (£30,000 in total over three years) and by approximately £60,000 in kindness through the use of teaching space, staffing, technical support and transportation. A £3000 grant from Bournemouth charity Pavilion Dance South West and lesson fees and ticket sales of almost £6500 a year helps top up the amount required to run the scheme.

Each year Propeller holds open auditions for its dance training programme. In 2016, its first year of operation, 76 young people enrolled on the course. Over the academic year they are taught by a team of dancers with specialist teaching skills in locations across Cornwall. Each child pays £110 annually which covers their weekly tuition. They also have access to additional workshops, residencies and performances. This income helps keep the project running. They also support a number of home-schooled young people who are nor charged for participation. Around 130 young people have benefited from the programme to date.

Following on from the successful launch of Propeller, in 2017 DR2, along with Falmouth University and Cornwall College, launched ‘Altitude’ which is a diploma course for dancers delivered through Cornwall College. Another similar project aimed at primary-aged children called ‘Pre-Flight’ is now also up and running and growing in numbers with plans to roll out the scheme to three other centres across the county in 2018.

Propeller’s success can’t only be measured in terms of the number of young people directly enrolled in the scheme. The project has brought about a dynamic and effective partnership between Dance Republic 2 and the biggest Higher and Further Education organisations in Cornwall. Working together, the team is constantly looking to develop exciting opportunities for young people in dance; broadening their cultural horizons and supporting a love of the Arts. In recent years DR2 has becoming increasingly concerned about a lack of support for dance training which has resulted in it now being virtually impossible to study for a GCSE in Dance in any of Cornwall’s secondary schools. The Propeller scheme fills that gap as it works as a launch pad for young people to continue their dance training post-16. Without this course, and with no opportunity for studying for a GCSE in Dance in Cornwall, DR2 believe the number of young people studying Dance at FE and HE level would fall yet further which could ultimately result in the courses being withdrawn.

Looking to the future DR2 is using the positive outcomes and feedback of its former students to steadily raise its participation fee to increase earned income. The course is still reliant on funding from outside sources however the success of its launch – thanks to money from the Challenge Fund – should keep Propeller running in Cornwall for years to come.

“We could not have run this programme without RIO support. We might be able to lever future funding in the strength of its success” Antony Waller, Dance Republic 2.