Special Edition 

In this Special Edition, we are delighted to bring you the news of the appointment of the new Director of YBSS.  You can also read Marguerite’s farewell Director’s Update and our best wishes to both Marguerite and Iain.

Welcome to Iain Mackay

We are delighted to announce that Iain Mackay, Principal with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, will be taking over as Director of the charity starting in January 2018.  He will be leading his first Summer School in July and what will be the 45th Summer School held since being founded by the Royal Ballet dancer David Gayle.


Iain will bring to the role a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for classical ballet training that will be passed on through his leadership, maintaining the highest standards for which the school is well known. He himself was a scholarship student attending YBSS for many years during his training.


In 1999 after finishing his studies at the Royal Ballet Upper School, Iain joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet where he rapidly rose through the ranks achieving promotion to Principal dancer in 2003. He has enjoyed an impressive international performing career and in recent years has dedicated much of his time to teaching, mentoring and governance across the dance sector. Iain dances his final performance with BRB in January to dedicate his time and energy to YBSS.

Iain’s appointment starts an exciting new chapter in the summer schools long and distinguished history.  “I’m honoured to be taking on the role of Artistic Director of the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School. I first attended the summer school in 1991 as a young lad with a passion for dance, my time at the summer school played an inspiring role in my pursuit to become a professional dancer. The Yorkshire Ballet Summer School has a rich heritage and an outstanding, international reputation for delivering world-class summer courses. For this one must recognise and admire the strong and visionary leadership of Marguerite Porter and the founder David Gayle. Having enjoyed a nineteen-year performing career, I’m excited to have this opportunity to pass on the knowledge, passion and energy I have to support and nurture future generations of dancers giving them the platform to pursue their dream and to join the ever-changing professional world of dance.”

Charles Glanville says: “We could not have hoped to find a better qualified and more exciting new director of YBSS than Iain Mackay. As a former YBSS student who looked forward each year to those magical weeks in Yorkshire learning from the best teachers, as a principal dancer at Birmingham Royal, and as a man who has organized his own dance events and acted as company manager for Birmingham Royal, Iain brings both the skills and the vision we looked for as the person to take YBSS into its 45th year and beyond."

Iain Mackay © Tyrone Singleton

The Director’s Update

Dear Friends

Week one of this year’s Summer School passed fairly smoothly with some very nice (and talented) students, particularly in the 14/15 year old age group.  The teaching was. as ever, impeccable, as were the four Masterclasses.

The first Masterclass was given by Donald MacLeary, who taught the Act 11 Princess Aurora Variation from The Sleeping Beauty.  It is a ravishing solo, and deceptively difficult. I was reminded, watching Donald coach it, of the many times he rehearsed and guided me through it in my early years as a Principal, ‘handy hints’ to help with technique, peppered with intelligent suggestions and much needed advice regarding the movement.  It was much enjoyed by the spectators and the fortunate students who worked on it.

Wayne Sleep gave a marvellous Masterclass to the entire younger group - 28 girls and 4 boys. He adapted the Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, and Swanhilda and Franz’s entrance in Coppelia.  The children worked extremely hard for him, with intense concentration and a real willingness to listen and learn. Wayne was delighted with them and the evening was great fun for all concerned.


Edward Watson gave a stunning Masterclass in which he taught the short but powerful and emotional solo from the end of Act I in The Winter’s Tale.  The boys relished every second of it and Ed was thrilled and moved by them.


Brandon Lawrence returned to teach the Suiters Dance from David Bintley’s Cinderella.  He used the ‘middle group’ of boys who found it quite a challenge, but they mastered the difficult steps, and coped extremely well with such a ‘grown up’ piece.  It was moving for me to see Brandon (who is a natural teacher in my opinion) performing, guiding, and encouraging the boys, when it seems but a minute since he was one of them.  I am proud to say that he has just been nominated for the most outstanding male dancer in a Classical Company for the National Dance Awards 2017.


In the final Masterclass, Anthony Dowell coached four boys in Des Grieux’s solo from Manon, which of course he created.  Just to watch Anthony coach is to be treasured.  Again, it was a thrilling evening and, although the boys found it difficult, they loved every moment.


We were blessed with three brilliant pianists - David Plumpton, Richard Norriss and Maria Milanova.  Good pianists for dance are incredibly difficult to find and I’m not quite sure how I managed to fall on my feet with them, but I am grateful for it.


The devoted Houseparents, again, were a triumph. Kind, fun genuinely loving towards the students.  They constantly planned fun activities and were always ‘there’ for them should they need any kind of help.


I feel that all the previous teething troubles with the venue have been resolved and Askham Bryan could not have been more supportive.


I am so pleased that the 2017 Summer School, my last, was as good, and as happy, as any that have gone before.  It is always nice to hear how much the students have enjoyed their time with us.  It has given me great pleasure to wave goodbye to them knowing that they leave us newly inspired, encouraged, strengthened and ready to begin their next adventure.


And now, dear friends, since this is my last Newsletter, I would like to TRY to express my gratitude to you all for your extraordinary kindness, encouragement and support over the past 12 years.

It has been a wonderful and privileged job and in almost every respect I have loved every minute of it.  I have felt fortunate indeed to have been able to help so many students to transition into fully fledged professional dancers and I hope to this day to continue to be able to be of use and support to them.


I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to my Board of Trustees, who give up their time and energy to be so involved in all aspects of the Summer School.  I could not have managed without them.  Also to my PA, Kathryn Young, who has been a constant and brilliant support.


Laura Connor, who has been a steadfast and loyal friend for many years, has now become so much a part of YBSS; she is devoted to the wellbeing of all the students and staff and is totally selfless in her constant and cheerful demeanour. On those days when exhaustion hits us, there is always Laura with a kind word and lovely smile.


I hope that YBSS will continue on for another 44 years at least.  It is a unique and very special charity, begun all those years ago by the brilliant David Gayle.

Warmest Wishes
Marguerite Porter MBE

Farewell to Marguerite

The Board of Trustees is delighted to give the greatest thanks to Marguerite, and to wish her well in her retirement – though we have the sneaking feeling that Marguerite will not stop contributing to the world of ballet.  Marguerite has generously agreed to remain a consultant to YBSS during 2018, to be available to Iain as he takes over the reins.  She will be returning to YBSS in the summer, teaching a Masterclass at the 2018 Summer School.

In her 12 years as Director, Marguerite has transformed Yorkshire Ballet Seminars into Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, turning it into a charity, aimed at giving the best tuition to the best and most deserving students, with its place firmly embedded in the pantheon of British ballet – “A chance to dance”, as Marguerite describes it.


She has made it a charity which you have wanted to support – so loyally and so generously - and we add our great thanks to Marguerite’s for sharing our vision and journey.

Charles Glanville, chairman of the Trustees, adds: “To say that YBSS, its students and teachers will miss Marguerite in her role as director is the understatement of all time.  Marguerite has been the heart and soul of the Summer School, giving each of us such warmth and care, while ensuring that everyone receives something from the school each summer that cannot be found anywhere else.  We are so pleased that she has agreed to come back and teach a Masterclass– a wonderful opportunity for her and us.” 

Next Newsletter

The next Newsletter will appear in February as usual and you can look forward to reading how Iain plans to take YBSS into the 2018 Summer School and beyond.

New director - see news