Ballet West is a ballet school with an outstanding reputation. Based in Taynuilt in Argyll, it was set up in 1991 by Gillian Barton. A member of the Royal Academy of Dance and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), Gillian has danced with companies in the UK, Europe, the Far East and the USA.
Born in Glasgow, she has spent many years teaching and dancing in the United States and was the director of the Mira Mesa Ballet Company. In 1991, she returned to Scotland and founded the Ballet West School and company. She choreographed the early productions of the company. Gillian also has extensive experience working in film and television, on the Michael Caton-Jones film, "Rob Roy" and on "Mrs Brown" a film starring Dame Judi Dench and Ballet West patron, Billy Connolly.
Gillian is the founder of Ballet West and has steered the company through its development from early beginnings to the present day and Ballet West has since steadily developed an ambitious educational programme offering full-time Higher Education courses leading to BA (Hons) in Dance by the Open University. It also runs a variety of outreach classes for students from age 3 through to adults. These include classes for 300 young people throughout Argyll, four Summer Schools and two year-long Associate courses in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The school continues to produce dancers who are selected to perform in principal roles throughout the leading companies in the world, and medallists and finalists at the world’s most prestigious events. These include RAD Genée International Ballet Competition, the RAD Solo Seal, the BBC’s Young Dancer of the year competition and the prestigious Prix de Lausanne.
In addition, Ballet West has developed as a professional touring company with an extensive audience base and extremely high reputation for delivering quality productions.
Their commitment to making the student experience the very best is incomparable and the stunning location in Taynuilt combined with a family friendly supportive atmosphere adds to the special magic that is Ballet West.
Current facilities are now overstretched and no longer fit for purpose and to meet the demand for places at the school, and achieve their vision of bringing new levels of opportunity, creativity, artistic expression, and excellence to develop new generations of dancers of the highest calibre world-wide, Ballet West needs a major expansion of its facilities and a new studio complex. This development will ensure Ballet West continues to develop top-class performing dancers for the next 25 years and more.
The project will cost £4.5M and in addition to meeting the needs of the students, the new studio complex will give rehearsal space for Ballet West's full-scale classical ballet productions and has the potential of being used as a performance space. At the same time, the addition of a third studio on the site will free up space for more part-time courses for local students and for expanding Ballet West's popular summer schools for young people.
As a charity, Ballet West relies on individual, philanthropic and corporate support, alongside that of trusts and foundations and has launched an appeal for funding to help meet the cost of the studio. It has been designed an award-winning firm of Architects in Glasgow - Puregreenspace, who specialise in combining the very latest sustainable, green, energy-efficient building techniques and modern contemporary architectural design.
We really need to raise as much money as possible to support this project and would be grateful for any help you can give. Thank you for your time - we would be delighted if you chose to support our cause.
A word of support from our Patron, Sir Billy Connolly, CBE:
"As Patron of Ballet West, it gives me enormous pleasure to support the campaign to raise funds to build a new studio in Taynuilt. Ever since it started Ballet West has proved to be an enormous success, firstly bringing the best of ballet teaching to the Highlands, and now reaching out worldwide, through its degree and its tours, both domestic and international, by students and professional dancers.
Ballet West has been so successful that the demand for places is enormous and there is an urgent need for a larger and better-equipped studio. I applaud the astonishing achievements of Gillian Barton, her staff and her students and look forward to the new facilities, which will enable the school to continue to grow and to thrive."