24-year-old Fenella was nominated for TrinityTalent 2020 for her achievements in ballet for her Bronze Arts Award. She completed her Arts Award with Birmingham Royal Ballet and spent her time volunteering as an assistant ballet teacher for Birmingham Royal Ballet's talent identification programme, Dance Track.
Fenella was nominated by her Arts Award adviser, Hannah MacGregor. Hannah said: "Fenella has shown tremendous leadership skills throughout her time volunteering as an assistant ballet teacher for Birmingham Royal Ballet's talent identification programme, Dance Track. She was able to draw upon her own ballet experience when coaching the children in the class, correcting technique, getting to know them and building rapport and trust with them. She was able to spot when a child was finding the class challenging and took the child through the movement step by step so they felt more confident in their abilities. I believe that Fenella has grown her leadership skills and I don't doubt that she will go on to deliver many more successful dance classes in the future."
The Trinity judges said: "Fenella has shown impressive leadership skills with other children, not only teaching others and sharing her own technical skills but also mentoring and guiding others. She's looked to help individuals and shows evidence of being a fully rounded leader, not just teaching art but developing as a coach and mentor."
How has your Trinity qualification influenced your leadership skills?
Arts Award has given me the opportunity to improve my leadership skills by working with the Dance Track students at Birmingham Royal Ballet as a LEAP Ambassador. Having danced since I was four years old, dance has always been a huge part of my life. However, it was only through completing my Arts Award that I had the chance to shadow and teach ballet. My Arts Award adviser and the students were so welcoming which made me enjoy the experience thoroughly, I Ioved being part of the student’s weekly ballet training.
A requirement for my Arts Award was an arts skills share. To achieve this, I created a ballet class aimed at the Dance Track children that I filmed and edited into a video. The children were then able to access this video on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dance Track private Facebook page. I took this chance to provide a class where the students could follow my lead. Looking back, I feel so proud to have been able to be part of the young dancers' classes and hopefully inspired them to continue with their training.
Has taking part in a Trinity qualification helped you to develop wider skills?
I believe my involvement in Arts Award has reignited my passion for the arts industry. My relationship with dance throughout my life has changed from first a hobby, to then achieving a first-class BA Honours Degree in Dance at university. This then progressed to employment where I worked professionally as a dancer in Cyprus. However, having taken a step back from the arts world and working full time in a very different environment for a while, my experience with Birmingham Royal Ballet and completing my Arts Award has inspired me to reconnect with the arts. Not only has it allowed me to deepen my appreciation for the arts but it has in turn, boosted my confidence and opened my eyes to varied careers within this incredible industry. Arts Award has allowed me to explore and develop my skills through participation, researching, reviewing and sharing skills to thoroughly underpin my experience as a LEAP Ambassador.
Would you like to tell us anything about the challenges you’ve faced this year, and how you’ve overcome them to achieve your qualification?
Over the past year, I have been fortunate to be working throughout the pandemic in my full-time office job but I did experience a month of furlough back in April 2020. As this was quite earlier on in the global crisis, like many others, I was filled with uncertainty. However, Arts Award gave me a focus and a goal to channel my energy into meeting the deadlines by creating personal, inventive pieces of work.
Creating my home video of a ballet class was my chance to show leadership creatively and share my skills with the students online. Although I had initially prepared to deliver my class in person to the students, I was motivated by the challenge of creating a video to allow the students to continue with their training in their own homes.
What are the next steps for you following your qualification?
I feel so fortunate to have achieved my Bronze Arts Award as it is a fantastic qualification to add to my CV. Following on from this, I have been inspired to devise my own ballet-based fitness class, Beyond Barre. I carry out this free, weekly class via Zoom with the incentive of attracting people to try something different. The class focuses on improving posture, building strength, working on balance and escaping any stress from the day. All abilities and genders are welcome.
I believe Arts Award acted as a catalyst for me to further share my arts skills with an even wider audience. With mental health more poignant than ever, I felt the desire to do something and inject some positivity into people’s lives by encouraging them to move.
What are your career aims?
After the difficult year we have had, it is heart-breaking to know the arts have taken such a financial and emotional hit. However, with new opportunities on the horizon as we look to the future, I believe I need to be part of this extraordinary journey and support the arts the best way I can. I hope to invest myself into projects that shine a light on the significance of the arts and how all people should have access to this remarkable, ever-changing world.
Have you got any advice for other young people working towards an Arts Award or Trinity qualification?
I strongly recommend other young people to keep pushing towards completing their Arts Award. It is a great opportunity to showcase new skills whilst looking back and reflecting on the great things you have achieved. Some elements of Arts Award may push you out of your comfort zone but this is so important in growing as an individual and also as an artist in whatever field that inspires you.
Read more about the talented young people selected to be featured as part of the TrinityTalent Class of 2020.