They spend every weekend driving around the country and haven’t had a family holiday in years, while dresses and make-up cost them thousands of pounds. We meet five mothers who will stop at nothing to make their daughters’ dancing dreams come true…
I’m living my dream through my daughter
Marian Keogh and daughter Aofie. They spend every weekend driving around the country and haven’t had a family holiday in years, while dresses and make-up cost them thousands of pounds
Marian Keogh, 50, a sales and business developer, lives in North-West London with husband Dermot, 46, a builder, and daughter Aoife-Mai, ten. Marian says:
When I was little, I loved Irish dancing but I didn’t have the chance to continue. So when Aofie-Mai was seven, I started sending her to classes. I want to give her every possible chance. I suppose I’m living my dream through her.
At first, it was just for fun, but she is naturally talented and has won trophies and medals. She dances four times a week and has between 15 and 20 competitions a year.
She even won a world medal in a team dance when she was nine, which is quite a feat.
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Irish dancing has two types of routines, soft shoe or hard shoe, and Aofie does both. But she prefers hard shoe because of the rhythm. It’s very tough to master and she practises 15 hours a week.
It’s a very expensive hobby. We can’t afford family holidays any more, so whenever we’re travelling around the UK or Ireland for competitions, we treat it as a break. My husband comes, too, occasionally, but because he’s self-employed he doesn’t get paid for days off.
Flights to Ireland cost around £300, the average hotel is £600 a weekend and then there are all the meals and snacks, and taxis from the airport. Each trip costs around £1,200.
It’s a crazy world of false eyelashes, fake tan and so much make-up — but the girls adore it. I found the heavy make-up a bit strange at first, and still think there’s no need.
The dresses are very elaborate and cost around £2,000 each. We go to a designer called Eire Designs by Gavin Doherty because they’re top quality. To have a Gavin dress is amazing.
We do make sacrifices. I no longer have a social life and hardly any time for myself.
My husband and I hope she sticks at it, though, because it teaches discipline, hard work, helps her fitness and builds friendships. I do fear adding up the cost. I often think about what I could do with that money, but I love seeing her on the stage.
Hard shoes: £200
Competition entry: £400
Poodle socks: £45 (white socks to go with the shoes)
Wigs: £100 – for performances
Soft shoes: £170
Make-up: £450 (including professional make-up for competitions and fake tan)
Branded dance wear for training: £300
TOTAL IN FOUR YEARS SINCE SHE BEGAN:
I had panic attacks about the cost
Louise Bramald and daughters Lexi, 14 and Darby, 19
Louise Bramald, 48, who works in marketing, lives with husband Matthew, 46, a fabricator, in Wakefield, West Yorks. Their daughters Darby, 19, and Lexie, 14, are both dancers. Louise says:
I used to dance when I was younger and loved it — so when Darby was three, it seemed natural to send her to the local dance school. With great teachers and hard work, she reached the Miss Dance of Great Britain finals two years in a row.
When Lexie came along, she wanted to go to the same school. Now they both love it but Darby is most keen to follow it as a career. She is studying dance and musical theatre at a great university in London while Lexie does it for fun.
Having two daughters dancing costs us a fortune and I had panic attacks about the cost when Darby got her university place.
We were on the cusp of telling her she couldn’t go, that we couldn’t afford the £8,000 a year fees plus living costs. But we did the sums, and with my husband’s overtime and my salary, we can just about afford it.
We make sacrifices such as no holidays, but if you can give your children these chances, then you have to do it.
Dance classes for Lexie: £3,000
Tuition fees for Darby: £8,300
Private lessons: £800
Outfits: £320 — about £40 per
costume for Lexie. Tutus are
around £120 and we buy
one a year.
Competition fees: £600
Dancewear: £700 (including
leotards and leggings)
COST SINCE THEY BEGAN:
Some couples remortgage their homes to afford it
Rachel Lewis and her daughter Angel. Rachael Lewis, 43, who works in financial services, lives in Chester with David, 54, a programme manager, their son Rohan, 19, and daughters Alanna, 16, Neve, 14, and Angel, ten
Rachael Lewis, 43, who works in financial services, lives in Chester with David, 54, a programme manager, their son Rohan, 19, and daughters Alanna, 16, Neve, 14, and Angel, ten. Rachael says:
Angel’s love of ballet has taken over our world. If we’re not at a lesson, we’re travelling to one or to an audition or doing a show. It costs a fortune, and as a family we’ve had to sacrifice luxuries such as holidays and meals out.
My other children, who have sacrificed their own school trips because of the cost, don’t seem to resent it. They fully support her dream to become a professional ballerina.
Angel started dancing lessons at the age of three. I joke that she danced out of the womb, but it’s only in the past two years that she seems drawn to ballet. She’s got a natural talent for it.
Every Saturday, we attend a prestigious scheme in Birmingham which takes up most of the day and costs £395 per term. She has around 12 hours of classes on top of that, locally or at school.
Outfits and shoes can be expensive. A dance leotard can cost around £50 and she has a lot. She hasn’t started on pointe yet, but when she does you’re looking at £55 a pair.
In September she hopes to go to dance school full-time. I know some couples who’ve re-mortgaged their houses to be able to provide lessons and school fees. Even if she gets a scholarship, we’ll still have to pay out thousands every year.
But she’s bright and determined and she has already proved that by getting to the final stage auditions for a place at the Royal Ballet School. I’m very proud of her and just want her to be happy.
COSTS PER YEAR:
Audition fees: £180
Summer schools: £1,000
COST SINCE SHE BEGAN: £20,000+
I don’t want her to hold her back
Melissa Greatwood and daughter Amy. Amy is completely obsessed by everything ‘dance’. Acro-dancing — a mix of modern dance and acrobatics involving the splits and one-handed cartwheels — is her favourite.
Melissa Greatwood, 22, a criminology student, lives with Matthew Root, 21, a junior accountant, and their children Oliver, two and Amy, five, in West London. Melissa says:
Amy is completely obsessed by everything ‘dance’. Acro-dancing — a mix of modern dance and acrobatics involving the splits and one-handed cartwheels — is her favourite.
She’s very competitive and has done well in her exams, which she performed in front of hundreds of people. She is determined to be a professional dancer.
She also does singing and acting classes with Stagecoach Performing Arts. She’s only five and it’s amazing watching her grow in confidence.
But it’s so expensive. By far the biggest expense is travel — four classes a week after school. It’s an hour-long round trip and costs £60 a week in petrol alone.
We do ten performances a year and spend £50 a month on hair products alone. We top up her make-up bag every three months, using Mac or Nars brands because we know those brands suit her.
Although we hire the costumes for performances, we buy all her training outfits. We have easily spent around £10,000 a year over the past three years but I’d dread to look at it in detail.
Matthew argues it’s a waste of money, but Amy is so dedicated and I don’t want to hold her back. Luckily, we haven’t had to sacrifice too much. Even though I’m a student, Matthew earns £35k a year and my dad is really supportive. If there’s anything financial we can’t provide for, he steps in, so we’re very lucky. He adores his grandchildren.
One thing that does concern me is what happens when Oliver, our son, wants to start a hobby. He’s not interested in anything just yet, but once he does, we may have to cut back on Amy’s classes simply to make the time to fit everything in.
Audition fees: £180
Summer schools: £1,000
COST SINCE SHE BEGAN: £20,000+
I am going to have to do more overtime
Beatrice Goldsmith and her mother Lily from Western Super Mare. Beatrice has always loved Strictly Come Dancing and wanted to try ballroom dancing.
Lily Goldsmith, 37, a part-time receptionist, lives in Weston-super-Mare with Beatrice, nine, who loves ballroom dancing. Lily says:
Beatrice has always loved Strictly Come Dancing and wanted to try ballroom dancing. She found the classes a bit overwhelming at first but now she absolutely loves it.
Her favourite is the Viennese waltz but she does Latin as well. She’s always showed promise and has won medals and trophies.
We’ve been very lucky that we’ve been able to borrow many outfits from her teacher but this year, I’ll to have to buy one. As ballroom dancers get older, dresses become more elaborate and can start from £300 each.
I envisage doing a lot of overtime in the coming years, but I don’t mind.
She’s on her seventh pair of ballroom shoes and I’m constantly buying socks and tights. Competitions usually involve an overnight stay in a hotel so we’re looking at £250 per trip.
She gets such a buzz out of it. As a single parent, I do make sacrifices — and I try not to think about the costs. But it makes her happy.’
Regular lessons: £800
Private lessons: £500
Travel/accommodation and food: £1,200
Hair/make-up: She uses mine!
TOTAL SINCE SHE BEGAN: £14,200
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