AN ambitious teenager with a dream to be in the limelight as a prima ballerina has secured an exclusive place at one of the world’s top performing arts institutions.
At just 15, Jessica Neilson from Muir of Ord has been accepted on a three-year degree course in modern ballet at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.
She recently left Dingwall Academy after taking her National 5 exams and returned there this week for the school’s prizegiving ceremony to pick up an outstanding achievement in sport award for ballet.
Dancing since she was four, she has been going to Glasgow for the past six years to develop her skills with the Scottish Ballet Associates Programme.
Jessica, who would like to become a principal dancer with a ballet company, said: “The younger you start your training the longer your career can be, so I was advised – with my mum and dad – that if this is really what I wanted to do there was no point in staying on at school any longer.”
Proud dad Peter Neilson said last summer had been hectic, with Jessica going to auditions to decide where she wanted to study.
“She was also accepted by the Central School of Ballet in London, but being a true Highland lass she wanted to stay in Scotland,” he said.
After her degree course, Jessica said she would be aiming to audition with ballet companies across the world.
But her heart is still clearly in Scotland.
Asked which dancers she admired, her first choice was Scottish Ballet’s Constance Devernay, and at least for now, she’d like nothing better than to dance with her home company.
The Royal Conservatoire has been recognised as one of the top three places in the world to study the performing arts.
Full Dingwall Academy prize list and pictures inside this week.