Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 06:54 UK

Cash threat to Blaenau Gwent twins' dance dream

The Morris sisters
The sisters have been dancing since the age of five

Twin sisters offered places at top English dance schools say they may have to turn them down due to a lack of funding available in Wales.

Alexandra and Sarah Morris, 17, of Blaenau Gwent, have been dancing for 12 years and dream of going professional.

Their mother said no performing arts schools in Wales could offer the same level of training.

The Arts Council of Wales said it did not fund education but funding was available for "arts-related projects".

The twins are now hoping to secure sponsorship to enable them to take up their places.

Their mother Michaela Morris said: "They have been accepted at three of the top colleges for the performing arts in the London area - Stella Mann, Performers and Masters. This is an amazing achievement.

"They have danced since the age of five and have never wavered, being out of the house every night during the week and travelling to Bristol for years to train with dance teachers who have performed all over the world."

It's a shame that many disadvantaged youngsters cannot take up their place and it falls to those that can financially afford a life in the performing arts world
Mother Michaela Morris

The sisters want to do a three-year mixed dance and theatre course which would equip them with the necessary skills to perform in West End shows or on cruise ships.

The colleges are private and there is no statutory funding or student loans available for the course, which would cost £12,000 each per year.

But Mrs Morris said one of the colleges was so keen to take on the sisters, they have been offered a two-for-one price.

She said funding was also available through a dance and drama award but only a small number of students received any cash.

Mrs Morris, a mental health nurse, and her husband Ian, who works at Big Pit in Blaenavon, said they simply could not afford the fees without assistance.

Originality and excellence

"We are normal, everyday people who cannot compete with the wealth of experience that dancers in the home counties and other parts of England are exposed to," she said.

"It's a shame that many disadvantaged youngsters cannot take up their place and it falls to those that can financially afford a life in the performing arts world."

The Morris family are hoping publicising their plight may help raise awareness about the situation facing young dance students and could bring about a change in the system.

The Arts Council of Wales said it did not fund education but funding was available for "arts-related projects" which met certain criteria such as demonstrating "originality and excellence".

Blaenau Gwent council said: "Unfortunately, we are unable to fund individuals for private rather than mainstream education.

"We are, however, happy to speak with the family about any smaller grants that they are able to apply for locally to help with fees and equipment."



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