Hertfordshire dancing queen Charlie Bruce
PUBLISHED: 08:33 13 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:49 20 February 2013
Talented dancer Charlie Bruce, who trained at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, competed with hundreds of hopefuls earlier this year to be crowned winner of the BBC1 show So You Think You Can Dance? She talks to Louise McEvoy
AT the tender age of seven, Charlie Bruce first discovered what was to become an all-consuming passion in her life.
I just wanted to dance, she explains, nobody told me to. I started with ballet but I cried and didnt like it, she remembers, but I did everything else I could get my hands on and loved it all. Someone said to my mum that I had serious talent at seven. For me, I was just born to dance. Some people do it for fun, but there is something inside me that says I have to dance. I love the way it feels when I move to music.
Charlie, whose favourite dance styles are jazz and contemporary, auditioned for a place at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts at the age of nine, and secured a place as a boarder there. They completely changed me as a dancer, she says. I was not that technical when I started and had no flexibility, but the training has been amazing.
Tring Park, situated in a former Rothschild family mansion with 17 acres of grounds, is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school for eight to 19 year olds, with a maximum of 300 pupils, and entry is by audition only.
Describing a typical day at Tring Park, Charlie says, I would get up, have breakfast, then assembly, before academic lessons from 9am until 12.30pm. Then it was lunch until 1.30pm, and dance lessons until 4.15pm, but sometimes I finished at 6pm. I would have dinner and then read books and watch TV until I went to bed in my dorm. I didnt leave Tring Park in my spare time because I was still so young.
Charlie, now 20, stayed at the Hertfordshire performing arts school until she was 16, and says, It was just so lovely, and such a happy place. She went on to study at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey.
She first heard about BBC1s So You Think You Can Dance? in The Stage magazine, and joined hundreds nationwide in auditioning for the show. She auditioned twice before meeting the judges who included Arlene Phillips, Nigel Lythgoe and Louise Redknapp and going through to boot camp, winning through to the final 14 for the live shows.
The six-week series, which set out in search of the UKs favourite dancer, hit TV screens in January, when dancers paired up each week to perform a different style of dance, including ballroom, contemporary and hip hop, in a bid to secure viewers votes. Performances also included solo dances and group numbers. I danced with Tommy and he was wicked, Charlie enthuses, but the long hours 12-hour days and learning all the information was hard.
Charlie went on to win the competition, securing the 100,000 prize money and the opportunity to dance in Hollywood this year in the US version of So You Think You Can Dance?
Asked how she has spent the prize money so far, Charlie says, I have just bought a flat in Beckenham, and Im not sure what Im going to do with the rest of the money.
Also a singer and choreographer, Charlie reveals that her dream is to be in a girl group, so she is currently working on some demos. Im a hard working girl and Im working on getting a record deal at the moment, she explains.
Charlie is currently in the ensemble of Dirty Dancing at Londons Aldwych Theatre, as well as being the understudy for the main character of Baby.
For more information about Dirty Dancing, or to book tickets, call 0844 847 2330 or visit www.dirtydancinglondon.com
History of Tring Park School
>> Tring Park School for the Performing Arts originated from two schools in London the first was founded in 1919 by Grace Cone and the second in 1922 by Olive Ripman.
>> In 1939, these schools merged to become the Cone Ripman School, which later became known as The Arts Educational School.
>> The school was relocated to Tring Park with the outbreak of World War II.
>> In 1970, the school acquired the freehold to the mansion and started making major improvements, which included new classrooms, ballet studios, a medical suite, and dormitories, and the new facilities were opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1976.
>> In 1990, following a fundraising appeal, the Markova Theatre
was officially opened by HRH Prince Edward.
>> In 1993, boys were admitted to the school.
>> In 1999, the former Convent House of St Francis de Sales
in Tring was bought for use as
an offsite boarding house for senior pupils. The second offsite house, Longfield, was purchased a year later.
>> In 2002, the science laboratories, IT suite, and design and textiles room were enlarged and refurbished. The courtyard was also transformed.
>> In 2009, the school was renamed Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.