8 March 2021
A YOUNG ballerina refused to let the pandemic get in her way in her dream to reach the highest level of dance.
Gabi Dickinson, 18, finally achieved the ambition she had worked so hard for when she was awarded a Merit at Advanced 2 level from the Royal Academy of Dance. This accolade requires hours of dancing practice every day throughout childhood to achieve.
But Covid meant she almost didn’t make it.
The Roedean Year 13 pupil was due, after training from the age of 4, to take the exam in March 2020 but it was cancelled four days before the date thanks to Coronavirus.
Said Gabi: “This exam was the culmination of 13 year of ballet training and 15 previous exams so it was a major blow. It was delayed until December but then when the exam came I was in a position where I had to self-isolate so I missed it again.
She added: “Covid has hugely affected and interrupted my dancing over the past year, with my longest lay off from training being from March to September last year.”
Gabi was elated when she finally got to perform for the exam. “I’m thrilled to get the Merit in it – after so many years of training.”
This outstanding achievement is the result of a remarkable level of dedication and physical effort, against the odds – students in dedicated dance schools practice for 4-5 hours a day to achieve this standard.
Inspired by Margot Fonteyn and Dacy Bussell, Gabi joined Roedean on a dance scholarship in year 9 and has been mentored by its dance teachers Sandra Stidston and June Mitchell.
Gabi added: “They have been an amazing support, particularly over the last year, as I was determined to take my Advanced 2 exam before leaving Roedean and we finally achieved.”
Ms Mitchell said: “Gabi has worked incredibly hard in spite of all the hurdles that Covid presented in terms of practise and taking the exam. She has practised for thousands of hours over the years and richly deserves her success. We are so proud of her determination and resilience.”