Local auditions for top dance college

DANCERS will be able to audition for a top UK college without leaving the Island next year.

The Jersey-born vice-principal of Bird College is planning to host their first Channel Islands auditions in the Island on 3 March.

Luis De Abreu believes there are many talented young dancers and actors in Jersey, some of whom may not be able to afford to travel to the UK to audition.

'I know how costly it is for students to come to London to audition,' he said.

'And if people cannot afford to come to us it means we miss the talent.' Having followed his dream career without money or family support, Mr De Abreu says he is keen to ensure others like him do not miss out on opportunities.

'I would like to share with those in the Channel Islands how I have got on in life and promote the college that I am so proud to be part of,' he said.

Mr De Abreu was sent to children's home Haut de la Garenne after his mother died when he was ten years old.

'After several foster homes and failed attempts at adoption I ended up in Haut de la Garenne,' he said.

'Throughout school I was very interested in drama.

Pat Dubras was doing panto in St Martin's Public Hall one year and came to the school looking for boys to join the chorus.

I had found a place where I belonged.

'Joining the Jersey Amateur Dramatics Club introduced me to like-minded people and kept me on the straight and narrow.

Working my way through the JADC I started to realise I really wanted to do this.

Then I started hearing about places people trained at.' In 1987 Mr De Abreu auditioned for Doreen Bird College and was accepted.

'Tommy Swanson gave me a bursary of £150 which helped me pay for my uniform,' he said.

'I moved totally to London because I had no one to come back to Jersey to stay with.

In the holidays I would work in London in restaurants and cafés.' He got his teaching qualification and had a number of performance jobs before he began teaching at the college and studying for an MA.

'I always go back to education,' he said.

'I want to be educated and I want to develop.

'I feel very positive about my life and the way it has developed.

It might just inspire some of those who are in care.

I also feel very lucky in life, as many people have helped me along the way, not least those in the JADC.

'I am intending to bring a team of staff to audition for local talent and hopefully give something back to the Channel Islands.

For someone who left school with five GCSEs at 15 and only went to college at the age of 22, I feel I have achieved some remarkable things.

'At 40, I have an MA, PGCE and I am now vice-principal and artistic director of one of this country's top vocational colleges.' Anyone interested in finding out more about the Jersey auditions should phone the college on 020 8300 3031 or e-mail admissions@birdcollege.co.uk.

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