Neath College Student Dances All The Right Moves To London

Isabelle Coombs began her studies at NPTC Group of Colleges on the A Level and BTEC Level 3 in Dance with Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate in September 2018. Since then her dancing abilities have developed so much that she has now been offered a place to train in London!

Isabelle fought off thousands of other young dancers to win a place at one of the country’s leading higher education institutions for Musical Theatre and Dance tuition, and in September she will begin her professional training on the degree course at London Studio Centre.

Isabelle commented that;

“During my time at Neath College I have developed my technical skills in many dance disciplines inclusive of jazz, classical ballet, contemporary dance and tap.  This training, alongside the choreographic, professional and historical aspects of my dance programme of study has given me a thorough understanding of dance within the professional dance sector of today.”

Isabelle, who comes from a family of dancers went on to say that;

“I have really enjoyed the experiences the dance department has offered me since I started at College.  I have taken part in professionally led dance workshops and I particularly enjoyed my unique training opportunities with Richard Alston’s Dance Company and National Dance Company Wales.  I have been as equally inspired by my practical dance lecturers Craig Coombs and Elise Addiscott for helping me develop my skills further in order to become the dancer I am today.  The dance lecturers at Neath College have changed my life forever and I am incredibly grateful for that”.

Dancing has been part of Isabelle’s life for as long as she can remember as she comes from a family of successful dance teachers and performers.  Isabelle’s mother, Cathy Coombs, recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of Solar Dance and delivers dance classes across Port Talbot, Pontardawe and Ystradgynlais.  Cathy has collaborated with Craig Coombs who is the College’s Subject Leader and Course Coordinator for Dance for many years, mainly linked to work with community dance organisation TAN Dance in projects such as Cecilia Macfarlane’s Intergenerational Project, Oyster Bay and Dynion Dance Company.

Craig, who shares the same surname is no relation to Isabelle and her family, commented that;

“Isabelle has been a fantastic dance student and has proved herself to not only be a talented dance performer, but also a gifted choreographer.  Her dedication to her work is outstanding and her passion for dance is evident in everything that she does.  Isabelle has the potential to be a leading practitioner in the field of dance and I am confident that her time at London Studio Centre will nurture her skills to the fullest.”

At College Isabelle trains and performs as part of One Vision Dance Company which is exclusive to the BTEC Level 3 Dance students.  She also performs with LIFT Dance Company which invites all College students to audition for performance places every January.  This year Isabelle was hopeful of presenting her own choreography at LIFT Dance Company’s annual showcase at the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Craig Coombs went on to further comment that;

“Though the annual LIFT Dance Company was cancelled for the first time in its fifteen-year history, the future is bright for students like Isabelle who hoped to perform for the company one last time.  In the years to come the College will host the LIFT Graduate Company, whereby students like Isabelle will be invited back to College to perform alongside the company dancers once again.  Isabelle’s training at London Studio Centre will undoubtedly ensure her a place in the LIFT Graduate Company of the future.”

Isabelle’s talents were recognised by the College earlier this academic year when she won the Cultural Bursary Award for Excellence in the School of Creative, Visual and Performing Arts, reflective of the extraordinary standard of work she has produced during her time at College.

Isabelle stated that;

“Winning the award was an unexpected honour and I was thrilled to accept it.  The bursary has helped me achieve my university goals as it has contributed to the funding of my auditions for a variety of private vocational institutions this year.  Now I have accepted my offer to train at London Studio Centre I am looking forward to beginning my studies and furthering my skills at such a well-established and respected place.”

Craig, who has been Isabelle’s personal tutor at College for the past two years stated that;

“Isabelle has always been the kind of student who has grabbed every opportunity that came her way.  She has been inspired by our educational visit to London last year where she embraced the classes at Pineapple Dance Studios and with Rambert Dance Company.  She is inspired by the work of many choreographers and after seeing her perform in this year’s College production of ‘Red Riding Hood’ I am confident that Isabelle has a fantastic dance career ahead of her.”

All the dance lecturers wish Isabelle success in her new ventures and look forward to watching her career develop over the coming years as they prepare for a new intake of young dance enthusiasts this September, which includes Isabelle’s younger sister Amelia Coombs and welcomes her brother Callum Coombs to the teaching team.