Edinburgh’s longest-running dance school ‘struggling to survive’

Edinburgh’s longest running dance school, the Manor School of Ballet, is struggling to survive due to the effects of the Covid‑19 crisis and is turning to the public for help to survive the financial rigours of the pandemic lockdown.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 7:30 am
The Manor School of Ballet is under threat
The Manor School of Ballet is under threat

Established in 1972, the school is set to celebrate 50 years of dance education in 2022. However, since the coronavirus pandemic begin, the number of students drastically decreased, and the school is now facing uncertainty.

Now its directors have set up a GoFundMe page called “Help us survive to reach our 50th year” was set up.

“We closed on the 16th of March, which was just before the national lockdown [but] we felt like we couldn’t just stop and do nothing. So, although we were at home, we pre-recorded online work from home, we send out to our students,” explains Clair Smith, one of the directors of The Manor School of Ballet.

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Even after opening‑up following the easing of strict lockdown measures introduced by the Scottish Government, The Manor School wasn’t able to reopen all its external branches, so majority of the classes had to continue online. “We’re having a further drop off now, because I think lot of the children are fed up with zoom,” says Ms Smith.

“It’s just not ideal for dance – if they don’t have big enough space in their house or have problems with Wi-Fi.”

Acting in accordance with the guidelines, the school had to limit its dance pupils per class, cancel many of different classes it offers and had to practice safe distancing between pupils during each class.

Before Coronavirus, the Manor School was a home to almost 900 students, starting as young as two years old. Now, half a year after its transition to an online teaching the school doesn’t even have 550 students, which is decreasing every day.

Louisa Anderson, whose daughter Lucy has been visiting Manor School for the last 12 years, feels like The Manor School has done its best facing Covid.

“They have done an amazing job at trying to keep people connected, but I know they will be struggling. The guidelines are difficult for dance schools,” she acknowledges.

Lucy, similar to her mother, only praises the school for its efforts during the pandemic.

“I was really really glad to have the online class and it was so nice to stay connected even virtually,” she says.

Even now, when the face‑to‑face teaching returned, with new safety guidelines in place, she says she enjoys every minute of it. “The classes are very good in terms of social distancing and extra sanitising and it’s great to still have the opportunity to learn.”