Photograph by Dance Imagery Scotland
Elmhurst Ballet School
Hi I am Serena McCall, I am full time training at Elmhurst Ballet School currently in YR11.
FS: Why were you interested in becoming a Freda Silk Ambassador?
SM:I became really interested in Freda Silk after seeing all their stunning skirts. I have a real passion for dancewear and instantly feel in love in with the quality and variety of fabrics. I am so honoured to have been asked to join the team as I cannot wait to wear more of their beautiful skirts this coming year.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Scotland and live near Edinburgh.
Do you recall when or how you caught the dance bug?
I started dancing when I was only two and half years old but it was really when I turned about nine years old, I fell in love with ballet.
When did you start at Elmhurst School? Can you briefly a typical day?
I did not start Elmhurst until I was 14 years old. I started a bit later than most of my class, so it was extra special being offered a place into an existing year. My day begins very early we have breakfast from 7am in the morning then classes start at 9am. Most days consist of 4 hours dance and then 4 hours academic. We usually have dinner about 6.30 then we are evenings free to either go into the studios or study. We need to be in bed no later than 10pm.
What different styles of dance do you learn? Do you have a favourite style?
We learn a variety of styles, but in YR11 we do Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz and Flamenco. We have an enrichment day on a Friday so it can be anything from acrobatics to commercial.
My fav style of dance has to be contemporary.
Do you learn choreography at school?
I am studying my GSCE dance and we must do our own Choreography, so I do it as part of that.
Do you enjoy choreographing, or prefer to perform other people’s steps?
I love choreographing - to be honest it’s something I hope to be able to do in the future. Last year at our school’s chore competition I was lucky enough to be awarded the audience choice award for the dance I helped choreograph. Edward Watson and Kerri Nicholls were on the judging panel and they also awarded me commendations for the piece.
Who are your idols?
I am a huge admirer of Sarah Lamb and Darcey Bussell. I love that Darcey is tall like me and has studied in America, which I hope to eventually do.
With which company would you like to work in the future?
I would love to perform in America, my dream would be to work for San Francisco Ballet or in the UK Wayne McGregor Company.
What was the last dance performance you went to see?
On Thursday the 27th of Feb I went to watch Beauty and the Beast by Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Are there particular dance events, competitions, workshops etc that you like to attend?
I attend as many workshops and dance conventions as I can. My favourite ones are Can You Dance conventions which I have been a part of for three years. I was selected to perform through a video audition a solo at one of the conventions and was called a rising star. However, two years ago I auditioned to be a part of the CYD dance star programme which means I now represent them CYD at events and get to perform at their Super Convention. Last year I was asked to assist a choreographer called Adam Scott in his sold-out workshop. In previous years I have also attended MOVE IT and performed as part of the Dane Bates Collectives which I am a member of.
Full time ballet training as a teen must been really hard work. What keeps you motivated and have time for your studies?
This year so far has been a challenge as I have just sat my mocks and later this year, I have my GCSEs which means I have been studying more. To keep me motivated through these challenges, I really focus on preparing the best I can by making sure I have set time aside to fit everything in.
I love attending Elmhurst and being able to combine my passion for dance and balance that with my academic studies gives me the motivation to always work hard. In addition to my ballet training and studies I am also auditioning for upper schools, so I have had to take a huge step back from lots of opportunities I get. I know that this will only be for the next six months, then once my exams and auditions are out the way, I have lots of exciting things planned for the summer.
What sort of a dancer are you?
I am often told I am very American in my style of dance, I have had feedback that I am both expressive and technical when I perform.
You look very confident and beautiful modelling for dance photo shoots. Does that come naturally to you, helped by being a dancer & performer?
I am so lucky to have worked with so many amazing photographers, but my first real dance shoot was with Tiia Laukkanen from Finland when I was 11 years old. Since then I have become more experienced, but I do agree being a dancer and performer has helped me. My most memorable shoot was Paris when I was 13 years old for an American Photographer Collette Mruk, it’s something I will never forget.
Do you find that putting on a costume or a beautiful flowing rehearsal skirt changes the way you feel? Is there a difference in the way you perform when in costume as opposed to studio wear?
When I put on a costume or beautiful flowing rehearsal skirt, it makes me feel so much more confident when I perform on stage. It is different to wearing studio wear, wearing costumes also helps you get into the character of the dance. I always love to put on beautiful dancewear, hopefully one day I can design my own range of dance wear clothing.
I’m not a dancer, but I love the elegance and grace of the clothes worn by ballet dancers. Do you take it for granted now, or do you get excited about a new ballet skirt, pointe shoes etc?
I never ever take for granted any of the dance wear, I still get so excited when I can wear something new and that little bit different. I pride myself in trying to stand apart by looking out for new and upcoming brands. I am about to trail a new product for a leading brand, and I can’t wait to receive it.
Do you have any other talents that might surprise people?
I love to tap dance which I don’t get to do that often these days but it’s something I did from a young age and have sat ISTD exams which I have passed with distinction.
Do you have some essential / favourite things that you keep in your dance bag?
I always carry my stretch bands and blister plasters in case I need these after being on pointe for long hours. I also make sure I have spare ballet tights and hair accessories.
If you could use your social media following to raise awareness for something besides
ballet, what would it be?
I hope my social media helps inspire young dancers of all ages that they can learn all styles of dance. I love to share my passion of dance and not just ballet. Being at a ballet school does not mean I cannot do anything else because that’s not true.
Follow Serena on Instagram @dancer_serena