How a “boy from Wythenshawe City Council” became a professional ballet star on tour with some of the biggest names in the industry
When Isaac Bowry was a teenager, he never believed he could be successful as a dancer.
Growing up in Wythenshawe with an Afro-Caribbean hairstyle and a dual heritage, he feared being rejected from the profession.
Now 25, Isaac is a professional ballet dancer and performed in a production of Romeo and Juliet, before dancing in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lane, who replaced female swans in tutus with shirtless male swans. .
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The former Newall Green High School student had never even seen a ballet performance on stage before being accepted, at age 14, into a program for outstanding young dancers at the Lowry in Salford.
Now working alongside some of the world’s best-known ballet companies, Isaac wants to go back to his Manchester roots and help break down barriers for the next generation.
He has since held a part-time position teaching outreach workshops in Greater Manchester for the Lowry CAT program.
Isaac recently visited Chorlton High School, Harrop Fold Academy in Salford, Wellacre Academy in Flixton and Denton Community College.
“It is very important for me to do outreach alongside my professional dance work,” he said.
“It’s my way of helping many other young people find their passion for dancing and showing them that financial and racial barriers can be broken.
“At a recent workshop, I saw a number of Afro-Caribbean students rejoicing that my hair was the same texture as theirs and was braided into a protective hairstyle.
“It gave a very strong message that having an Afro-Caribbean hairstyle is not a barrier to being a ballet dancer.”
For Isaac, it was the first encouragement from his school dance teacher, Jenna Hughes, that set him on the stage.
He started attending weekend workshops run by the Lowry Center for Advanced Training in Dance (CAT) program when he was in grade 9, then auditioned and won a spot in their funded program throughout the year. year.
From there Isaac, who still lives in Wythenshawe when not on tour, graduated from Birmingham’s Elmhurst Ballet School, one of the top dance training schools in the country.
He was a final year student when he got his lead role in a professional ballet production of Romeo and Juliet.
“When I joined our after-school dance club in grade 9, I was one of only two boys and the only student of color,” Isaac said.
“I knew I loved dancing, but I didn’t think it could be a career – certainly not for someone like me. I thought I could go into environmental science.
“I figured you had to come from a wealthy family to be successful in the dance world, but my mom is a single mother of three and I’m a city council boy.”
Isaac said it wasn’t until he joined The Lowry’s outreach program that he met other dancers from a variety of backgrounds.
It was during a workshop given by Ballet Central, the touring company of the Central School of Ballet in London, that 15-year-old Isaac knew he was going to be a ballet dancer.
“I didn’t grow up with any knowledge of ballet and had previously only danced at parties.” he said.
“For me, the ballet was Darcey Bussell playing a TV skit with Dawn French – or something you saw in the commercials. It just wasn’t in my world.
“When I attended the Ballet Central workshop at the end of my first year on the program, I decided this was my future.
“We had teachers who were the driving force behind the industry, the Royal Danish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the National Dance Theater of Wales, among others.
“The top notch financial support and training I received on the Lowry CAT program opened the door for me and gave me the technical skills and the right mindset to be successful in ballet.
“The contacts and friendships I have made will last a lifetime. The CAT program welcomes everyone and anyone who is passionate about dancing. Even ten years after our graduation, we are still like family. “
Isaac is currently performing in Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures’ Doorstep Duets, a pandemic project that is touring local communities, gates and communal outdoor spaces.
Sally Wyatt, Head of CAT, said: “As a student, Isaac was an exceptional member of the program. We are delighted to have him back as an awareness tutor, especially since it is almost time for the hearings again.
“Although entry into the program is through an audition process, we will closely examine the potential of each student, regardless of their previous dance experience.
“We will be looking for young people who demonstrate exceptional potential, commitment and enthusiasm for dance rather than those who have had the most formal training.”
Young dancers are invited to experience what it’s like to join the CAT dance program during an open house at The Lowry on Sunday, June 20 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Participants will be able to talk to tutors and students and also participate in a workshop.
Anyone wishing to try a spot in September on the Lowry CAT program can pick up an application form during the open house or download one from website, before the hearings on Sunday, June 27.
Seats for the Open Day must be reserved in advance through The Lowry Box Office on T: 0843 208 6000 or website.