Guest Teacher to Start New Term

With the start of the new school term just around the corner, Downland Dance are delighted to announce that we will be welcoming an exciting guest teacher for our first week, to help our students hit the ground running for a successful school year ahead!

Becky Clow has returned to her native UK after retiring from a successful international career as a classical ballet dancer. She trained at Elmhurst Ballet School, where she performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet. During that time, she also performed for “Reach-Out 4 Dance” which took ballet to hospitals, secure facilities and orphanages around the world. Since then, Becky has danced with Moscow State Ballet, touring Europe and Mexico with productions such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. The final stop in Becky’s career saw her dancing with The National Theatre Belgrade, Serbia, where she danced for three seasons including roles such as Swanhilda’s friends from Coppelia and the Lead Čardaš from Swan Lake.

Between Thursday 5th September and Wednesday 11th September, Becky will be taking over the following classes:

Thursday 5th September: Grades 2 – 6 (Didcot)

Friday 6th September: Grades 2, 3, 4 and Advanced 1 (Abingdon)

Saturday 7th September: Grades 3 – 6 (Didcot)

Wednesday 11th September: Senior Mixed Ability (AM class Abingdon), and Vocational Grades (Didcot).

Becky will use the opportunity to give many of our RAD students a taste of the many benefits of open classes.

As she will not be taking the majority of scheduled Open Classes, adults are welcome to join in with Advanced 1 classes so that they may benefit from her experience.

Becky is a gracious and bubbly person, and we are thrilled to be welcoming her!

Summer Holiday Classes 2019

For those looking to keep fit this summer, our Summer Holiday Classes schedule is now available to view below. Classes are PAYG, open to anyone aged 14+ and will be invoiced for at the end of the Summer. For information about prices, please contact us: We hope to see you there!

The Little Mermaid tickets now on sale!

We’re delighted to announce that the students of Downland Dance will be performing the story ballet, The Little Mermaid on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July at the Civic Hall in Didcot.

Parents, friends, relations and members of the public are most welcome to join us in the end of year performance and school celebration.

Tickets can be purchased below or via links on our Social Media pages.

Jubal Battisti Masterclasses – 28th April 2019

As the next one in our series of professional standard masterclasses, on Sunday 28th April 2019, Downland Dance is excited to be welcoming Jubal Battisti for a day of exceptional masterclasses in both classical ballet and contemporary dance styles.

All classes are open to anyone aged 14+ (exceptions can be made for very talented young students and adults are very welcome) , and have been tailored to suit all abilities.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Get 15% off when you attend both classical and contemporary workshops.

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Get an EXTRA 10% off ticket prices when you book before 11th March 2019.

DOWNLAND DANCE MEMBERS: On top of all of these savings, you can secure an extra £5 off per person by using the special discount code posted on our studio notice boards.

Click here to see a YouTube video of Jubal dancing with the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Company.

Buy tickets for Jubal Battisti Masterclasses

Jubal Battisti is a professional freelance ballet and contemporary dancer, based in Berlin. Born in the USA, Jubal began his training at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, before graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School in New York with a BFA and Scholastic Distinction. As a dancer he has performed for companies across the United States and Europe, including the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Company, and GoteborgsOperans Danskompani in Sweden. He has worked, both as a dancer and as an assistant choreographer with some of the dance industries leading names, including Didy Veldman, Hofesh Shechter and Jiri Bubenicek. With a solid classical ballet background, and extensive experience on the contemporary dance circuit, Jubal has developed a beautifully fluid movement and an excellent sense of musicality. He has a wealth of knowledge to offer dance students of both classical and contemporary ballet, and Downland Dance is extremely privileged to be welcoming him.

Buy tickets for Jubal Battisti Masterclasses

The timetable for the day is as follows*:

  • Mixed Ability Ballet: 9.00am – 10.30am
  • Mixed Ability Contemporary: 10.45am – 12.15pm

Do you have any questions? Please fill out our contact form or email

Places are limited, so get your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

*Timetable updated April 2019, and subject to alteration.

Tips for exam candidates

We know how important exams are to our students and their families, which is why we work hard to make sure all exams candidates are looking and feeling their best before they go in. Don’t worry if you are feeling nervous – that’s quite normal! We know that our students try their very best in the build up to exams, so we hope that the tips below will give them the impetus to perform at their best on exam day:

  • Arrive Early. Make sure you get to the studio with plenty of time to get ready. Rushing yourself before the exam will add unnecessary stress, and giving yourself an extra few minutes to settle your mind will give you the confidence to do your best!
  • Dress to Impress. Please make sure you arrive with hair and uniform in an impeccable condition. Showing the examiner that you are well disciplined with your appearance and manner will go a long way to impressing them.
  • Nervous? Being nervous makes you dehydrated, and being dehydrated makes you feel nervous. Make sure you drink plenty of water on the day of the exam.
  • Worried? Remember that we’re all human (including the examiner) and mistakes happen. If something goes ‘not to plan’ during the exam, don’t let it distract you. Just smile and keep on going!
  • Remember: Confidence is King! Take a deep breath before you enter the room to help focus your mind, and let any fears you might have leave your body as you exhale.
  • Enjoy! Exams are a golden opportunity to practice performing in front of a new audience, and what could be more enjoyable than performing the dances that you have worked so hard to get right?

Open Day 2019

After the success of our 2018 Open Day for young children, Downland Dance is delighted to be running another Open Day in 2019. On Saturday 23rd February 2019, we will be offering FREE ballet classes in Didcot and Abingdon, and this time we’re pleased to be including a class for Adult Beginners too!

Places are limited, so pre booking is essential. Please read on to find out how to secure your place.

Times and Locations

The following classes will be available:


Aureus School, Candytuft Way, Harwell, Didcot, OX11 6FF

9.00 – 9.45am Ballet for boys and girls (aged 3 – 6)

10.00 – 11.00am Adult Beginners Ballet (Ages 14+)


West Wing Studio, Coxeter House, Abingdon, OX14 3RG

9.00 – 9.45am Ballet for boys and girls (ages 3 – 6)

After the classes, you will have an opportunity to talk to our teachers about the different classes we offer and find out which one might be right for you, they will also be able to answer any questions you might have.

What are the benefits?

Dance is well known to have a positive lasting effect on the body and mind:

– Develop coordination, fitness and flexibility
– Enhance your energy levels, concentration and self-confidence
– Improve posture, which will help reduce aches and pains
– Build strength, stamina and agility
– Increased general physical and mental wellness.


Places are limited, so don’t delay! To sign up for our 2019 Open Day, please fill out the following form. For any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email at


Ballet Boot Camp 2019

Christmas is just around the corner. What’s not to love about the spending time with loved ones, exchanging gifts, and who won’t partake in way too much food and drink?

We understand that too many roast potatoes, minced pies and mulled wine can leave you feeling like a stuffed turkey! Which is why Downland Dance have developed a Ballet Boot Camp to help you shed the Christmas excess and make a fit and healthy start to the New Year.

Our Ballet Boot Camp is available for new students and runs between 7th January and 9th March 2019. For one month (from your chosen start date) you can come to any 2 of our ballet open classes, per week for a flat fee of £59.00. And, we’ll throw in your own Downland Dance T-shirt. The Boot Camp is available for any age* or ability (adults especially welcome!), and can be tailored to your individual needs.

*minimum age requirement 10 years

What are the benefits?

Dance is known to have a positive, lasting effect on the body and mind:

– Develop coordination, fitness and flexibility
– Enhance your energy levels, concentration and self-confidence
– Improve posture will help reduce body aches and pains
– Build strength, stamina and agility
– Increase general physical and mental wellness.

What’s included?

Ballet Boot Camp students will have access to any 2 of our ballet open classes each week for a period of one month. During this time you will develop a basic understanding of the art of ballet, and our dedicated teachers will guide and encourage you towards your goals. We’re even including a Downland Dance branded T shirt to help keep you motivated and get you looking and feeling great!

All of this costs just £59.00

How to apply?

Please fill out the following contact form, and someone will be in touch to suggest which classes might be right for you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at:  Make a positive change to your life – you won’t regret it.

Bootcamp Application:


Branded Merchandise On Sale Now!

We are thrilled to announce that our Downland Dance branded merchandise is now on sale. Items range from breathable sports T shirts to hoodies, water bottles and bags, and all featuring the revamped Downland Dance logo. Adult’s and children’s sizes are available.

All garments are available in black or white, and we hope to introduce a wider range of colours and styles soon. For more information, please see our Order Form and Size Guide.

To order, please fill out the Order Form, and return it either to your ballet teacher, or via email to Maggie Morris at:

Branded Downland Dance merchandise makes the perfect gift for your budding ballet dancer, and just in time for Christmas!

Easter Classes 2018

Downland Dance Holiday Classes have proven a popular way for our members (and visiting students) to keep in shape during the long school holidays. We’re happy to announce the details of our 2018 Easter Open Classes below.

The following classes are running from Monday 26th March – Saturday 21st April 2018*:

  • Mondays  Senior Open Class (All Abilities) 19.00 – 20.30 (£8.00)
  • Wednesdays Adult Beginners 10.00 – 11.00 (£6.50)
  • Thursdays Floor Barre 18.30 – 19.00 (£5.00)
  • Thursdays Company Class 19.00 – 20.30 (£8.00)
  • Saturdays Senior Stretch and Open Class 10.30 – 12.30 (£8.75)

*Please note, there will be no classes held on Weds 28th, Thurs 29th and Sat 31st March, or on Mon 2nd April.

All classes will be delivered by our resident professional dancer, Laura Houghton, and held in our Abingdon West Wing Studio. They are being offered on a Pay As You Go basis, so pre- registration is not necessary, and visitors are very welcome!

For more information, please contact We hope you enjoy the classes!

News From Our Artistic Director

Dear Students, Parents and Members of Downland Dance,

As we move into the second half of our first term as the new owners of Downland Dance, I thought the time was right for me to release an update on how things have been going so far, as well as to tell you a little about my future plans for the school. I’m also keen to hear back from you over how you think we’ve been doing.


Our first six weeks have been focused largely on establishing the new Downland Dance brand. You will all be familiar with our new logo and re-vamped website by now. In addition to this, our Abingdon members will have all seen the bright and vibrant makeover that the entrance way to our Abingdon studio received in January. We haven’t stopped there though, as the studio itself will be getting a touch up during the Easter break, which will create a clean and comfortable space to help all of our students focus on the serious business of learning to dance! We have also acquired some orange and black cushions which will be provided for our parents on their watching days, hopefully making them much more comfortable.

We’ve been doing some exciting things in the studio as well. Over the past two months, we have begun to put on the first (of what I hope will be many) of our special events which are aimed at inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to learn to love dance, and at breaking down the stereotypes that might put people off dancing (in particular, my pet hate, that dance is just for girls!). If you weren’t aware of these events, this is what we’ve done so far:

Matz Skoog Masterclasses:

At the beginning of term we were absolutely thrilled to have Matz Skoog with us (an internationally acclaimed ballet star, ex Artistic Director of English National Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet, and world renowned dance coach) to deliver ballet masterclasses to students aged 11 and all the way up to adult. The masterclasses were a huge success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who attended. Don’t worry if you missed out this time- Matz, and others, are sure to come and visit us again in the future!

Aureus Workshop:

Just after our fantastic day with Matz, we were generously hosted by Didcot Aureus Secondary School, along with some of the very talented Graduate students from our friends at Elmhurst Ballet School, to deliver a workshop to 120 of their year 7 students, introducing them to the exciting world of dance. We demonstrated to them how ballet is just as much about power and athleticism as it is about grace and art, and gave them a trial of how good it feels to dance. Many of the Aureus students (the majority of whom were boys), left the studio feeling inspired and energised by dance. To my mind, a huge success!

Downland Dance Open Day:

Our Open Day, which took place during the half term break, saw our Abingdon and Didcot studios filled with 3 – 7 year olds who had come along for a free trial class to see for themselves just how much fun ballet can be. It was a lovely day, and a joy for our teachers to meet so many enthusiastic young people and to share their love of dance with them.

Still To Come:

Our next event will be a day of jazz workshops, on Sunday 8th April 2018, delivered by Courtney Jackson – an experienced professional dancer and successful choreographer, specialising in Jazz, Tap and Musical Theatre, who trained at the Stella Mann College of Performing Arts. There will be classes for students aged 6+ (including a group just for adults), and all ability levels will be catered for. You can find out more about this exciting event by clicking here.


An objective for us, as new owners, is to organise the running of Downland Dance in a way that makes it simpler and more convenient for everybody involved, so we will be implementing a number of systems that aim to do exactly that. Here is some useful information:

Term Dates/ Summer Show:

Next term will run from Monday 23rd April – Thursday 26th July 2018 (Half term: 28th May – 3rd June). You may have noticed that our summer term runs for a few days (depending on your school) after the schools break up this year, and there is a very good reason for that. On Thursday 26th July, we will be holding our Summer Show and Launch Ceremony – an exciting progressions performance, followed by a drinks and nibbles reception to celebrate the official launch of the new ownership, where we will also be handing out awards and prizes to our most deserving students. To enable this to run effectively, our normal scheduled classes will stop on Thursday 26th July, where we are likely to hold a full dress rehearsal in the theatre before the show (more details to be released soon).

Of course, while I understand that holding the ceremony after the schools break up may make it difficult for some people to attend, I would really like for as many of our students and their parents to be there as possible, which is why we are trying to give as much notice as we can. Please do let us know if you think you or your child won’t be able to attend. It is our intention to culminate each summer term in the future with a summer performance, so if you can’t make it this year, it is perhaps something to keep in mind for next year!

Finally, as part of our commitment to efficient communications, we will aim to have the dates of all three terms for the 2018/19 school year published by the end of next term.


We will be holding our next exams session before the end of June 2018 (date tbc by the RAD), and teachers have already begun thinking about who they’d like to put through. From September 2018, we will be holding exam sessions in the Autumn and Spring terms, and teachers will have decided who is to be put forward for their exam by the half term of the preceding term. There will be no exams in the Summer terms (starting 2019), as these terms will be focused more on our summer shows.

My ambition is for every student to get the highest possible marks they can in every exam, and so to this end I have asked teachers to make robust decisions on selection, and to only put students through when they are absolutely sure that the student is ready. I know that all of our students work incredibly hard, so I’m sure that they will appreciate the acknowledgment of progress that being put forward for an exam represents.

When students are selected to go forward for an exam, they will be notified by email and will be presented with a choice of one of our new Exams Packages. The packages were designed with students and parents in mind, and will offer a combination of extra exam prep classes, as well as covering the cost of the exam entrance fee. We want parents to know exactly how much the whole process is going to cost upfront, which is why we have developed Gold, Silver and Bronze packages, so that every student can find the right deal to give themselves the best possible chance at the fairest price.

Just like dancing in a performance, I think it is vital that students rehearse the day before their exam, and so after the exam date is confirmed, we will be rearranging the timetable the day before in an effort to make that possible. As we are likely to have a large number of students entered into exams, it may not be possible to give everybody a class the day before, so we will try to be as fair as possible when deciding how to fit the extra classes in. Don’t worry, we will know about any changes to the timetable before we send out our invoices, so if your scheduled class falls on the day when we’d like to rearrange the timetable, you won’t be charged for the missed class.


There will be minimal changes to our timetable for next term, and if your class is one of those affected by the minor changes that we do plan to make, we will notify you directly. I am happy to announce that after the success of our 3 – 7 year olds Open Day this month, we will be putting on an Overture/ Pre Primary class in Didcot, starting after Easter.

Most of you will know that we usually try to adapt our timetable term from term in an attempt to make our classes fit around all of our students’ schedules. However it seems to me that this is almost always cumbersome, and results in some of our students missing out on classes where a new class time doesn’t work for them. That is why, from September 2018, we will be implementing a new fixed timetable which we will do our best to avoid altering between terms (with the exception of the odd minor change as we work out the bugs!). I hope that this will make it much easier for parents to plan ahead and avoid clashes with the other activities in their schedules. The fixed timetable will also ensure that students who are entered for exams will know exactly when their new class time is going to be after they’ve moved up a grade, and have time to prepare for it.

We have tried to organise the classes in our new timetable as logically as possible, and that does mean that we have had to make some changes from the way it looks now. So, although the timetable won’t be taking effect until September, in order to give all students and parents enough time to prepare for the changes, we will be releasing the new timetable as soon as it has been confirmed – so look out for news on that very soon!

Studio use:

A difficult task for me has been to figure out how we can offer students the best possible environment to help them improve. As students grow and develop, and as their class work becomes more advanced, they begin to need more space so that they can properly execute the steps. My concern is that, while our Abingdon studio is comfortable and conveniently placed for some, its size and ceiling structure can restrict our students from reaching their potential as they begin to need a large space to move effectively and comfortably. That is why, from September 2018, we will be encouraging the Abingdon students of Grade 4 and above to take advantage of the fantastic facilities that are available to us in Didcot Aureus School.

We will be reducing the amount of classes that we offer in Abingdon (Grades 4 and above), and encouraging students to also attend one of the Didcot classes to make up the difference. While this may seem to be an inconvenience at first, I am absolutely certain that all of our students who travel to Didcot will love the freedom that dancing in the bigger space will give them. Not only will they enjoy their dance classes more, but their technique will reach new levels in the bigger space, making them feel that the journey is totally worthwhile.

The classes we offer will be structured as follows, from September:


  • Overture – Grade 1: 1 x per week
  • Grades 2 & 3: 2 x per week
  • Grades 4 & 5: 1 x per week
  • Grades 6 – 8: n/a
  • Vocational Grades: n/a


  • Overture – Grade 1: 1 x per week
  • Grades 2 & 3: 2 x per week
  • Grades 4 & 5: 2 x per week
  • Grades 6 – 8: 1 x per week
  • Vocational Grades: 1 x per week

Open classes:

While we have put a great effort into making sure that all students (Grade 2 and above) have at least two classes a week available to them, I understand that this change in structure may make things difficult for some people. That is why we will still be offering open classes in both locations. I remain certain that open classes are the key to fast improvement and to gaining top marks in your RAD exams. This is because the teacher is able to individually adapt each class to suit the needs of its students. If you are Grade 4 or above (and it is essential if you are a student of the vocational grades), you should be coming to at least one open class per week, as well as your RAD graded classes, to make sure that you really are getting the best training that you can.

I understand that asking students to attend open classes on top of their RAD classes can cause a bit of a financial burden, however our primary interest is attainment and achievement for our students, which is why we have developed our new Open Class Packages to help people get the training that they deserve. If you’re interested to find out more, please do get in touch!


I firmly believe that the key to running a successful dance school is to have good communication with the students and their parents, to make sure that we’re meeting your expectations. That is why I am always keen to hear your thoughts and feedback, and you can do that either by contacting me at, or why not put a suggestion in our suggestions box, which is mounted on the wall of the waiting area of our Abingdon studio.

We may also like to run some polls in the future to help us gather your opinions, so please make sure that you’ve liked us on facebook (@downlanddance) so that you can be involved with those, as well as be kept up to date with all of the exciting news and events which are still to come.

We aspire to making Downland Dance a leader in the provision of ballet training in South Oxfordshire, and a place where our students can enrich their lives in a happy and comfortable environment. Thank you for taking the journey with us.

Warmest wishes,

Adam Harris,
Artistic Director.