A Falkirk teenager has danced her way to the top and scooped a top ballet award at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal.
Natasha Watson, 17, won a bronze medal at the Genee International Ballet Competition at the week-end when the competition was held in Scotland for the first time in its 82-year history.
The event has previously been staged in Wellington, Cape Town, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Toronto, Athens and Syd- ney.
Former St Mungo’s pupil Natasha, who used to train with Central Scotland Ballet School, was one of 60 dancers who made the finals, by achieving a distinction in her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced 2 exam.
The competitors were put through their paces in a series of classes and rehearsals, before 12 were chosen to go through to the finals and perform on stage for the judges Prima Ballerina and RAD President Darcey Bussell CBE, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare and Scottish Ballet Artistic Director Christopher Hampson.
Natasha said: “We had quite a few months of preparation before hand. We had to perform two solos – one classical, and one of our own choreography.
“During the week of the competition we also had to learn a specially commissioned dance, which you only got to perform if you made the final. We also had to take part in a ballet class on the stage.
“It was a very busy week but it was amazing just to get to dance on that stage and I just wanted to do it all again.”
Judges can award gold, silver or bronze medals on the night, and Natasha was one of three recipients of a bronze medal.
She added: “It was such a surprise to get to the final. My mum and sister were there to watch.
“I just tried to enjoy myself and didn’t have any worries. It was an even bigger surprise to be given a medal.
“I was really excited to receive my medal from Darcey Bussell. It is really special to have a Genee Medal.”
This wasn’t the teenager’s first association with the Genee competition, having won the Genee Dance challenge in 2011, which gave her the chance to perform at a glitzy Supper with the Stars event in London.
Judge Darcey Bussell was impressed with the standard of the performances in Glasgow.
She said: “For dancers who aspire to turn their passion into a career, the experience of competing internationally and being seen by artistic directors is a great opportunity.
“The profession today demands that a dancer has not only technical ability and expressive quality.
“Many former Genée finalists and medallists have gone on to exciting and high-profile careers with companies as diverse as The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Australian Ballet and Mariinsky Ballet.
“I look forward to seeing how our 2013 medallists develop their own careers – with a Genée medal to their names and this experience serving as a wonderful stepping stone.”
Natasha is currently studying an HND in stage dance at Ballet West, after completing a preparation year last year.
She now stays at the Ballet West centre at Taynuilt near Oban.
She said: “I am really enjoying it. I love going to the studio and dancing every day.”