Having grown up in Tunbridge Wells, Mica Bradbury is now a successful professional dancer with the Royal Ballet Company. At the end of the month, she returns to her home town to teach a workshop for aspiring dancers. Eileen Leahy finds out more about this brilliant ballerina
Mica Bradbury may only be 23 years old, but the Southborough-born dancer has achieved rather a lot so far in life.
Not only has she danced for The Queen and toured all over the world, she has recently performed in the Royal Ballet’s esteemed production of Giselle and pirouetted her way through Liam Scarlett’s interpretation of Swan Lake, to huge critical acclaim.
Mica attended her first dance class at the tender age of three, accompanied by her grandmother, who took her to Associates, a Tonbridge dance school. While there, Mica loved learning a variety of different styles, such as jazz, tap, modern and ballet.
‘I enjoyed it so much I attended every single week and did not miss a class,’ she tells me.
When she was just eight, her ballet teacher suggested that she and a few other dancers should audition for the Royal Ballet Junior Associates programme in Covent Garden, London.
‘I had never heard of the Royal Ballet and neither had my family,’ laughs Mica. And although she says the auditions were an ‘amazing experience’, she admits that they were also a very ‘tough and rigorous’ process.
Happily, though, she was accepted:I was the only member of my dance school to be offered a place in the programme. I was so excited and felt very privileged,’ she says.
The next two years of Mica’s life were hard work, not just for her, she says, but also for her ‘incredible’ parents, who travelled into London with her every Saturday morning so she could take part in the two-and-a-half-hour class.
‘I learnt so much and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience,’ she reveals. ‘I was lucky enough to be chosen to dance at Buckingham Palace for The Queen’s 80th birthday, and also performed Swan Lake with the Australian Ballet at the London Coliseum.
‘In my second year of Junior Associates, when I was ten, my teacher suggested that instead of going to a regular secondary school, I should audition for White Lodge – the Royal Ballet School in Richmond – which would involve me boarding and living away from home.’
She adds that the chances of her being offered a place were very slim in her view, as thousands of girls and boys across the country, and from abroad, audition for one of the prestigious 12 places for girls (and 12 for boys) every year.
‘At no point did I think that I would be offered a place, but I really wanted to give it a good go, just to see how far I could get. Also, I felt that it would be a really good experience for me.’
After a series of auditions, the final callback was narrowed down to 32 possible White Lodge pupils.
‘I was amazed to hear that I would be in that group of 32,’ smiles Mica. ‘The final audition took place at White Lodge, where we were also interviewed by a panel and had a tour of the wonderful grounds.
‘And although my parents were very supportive, they did not want me to attend the school if I was offered a place as they did not want me to live away from home!’
However, Mica was lucky enough to win a place and joined White Lodge when she was 11 and just going into year 7.’My parents did agree to me attending the Royal Ballet School, and I managed to keep my place all the way through to year 11.
‘But my dad made sure he picked me up and brought back to Tunbridge Wells to see my family every weekend for the whole five years I was there!’
After White Lodge, Mica auditioned for a place in the Royal Ballet Upper School in Covent Garden, and spent the next three ‘wonderful’ years living there before graduating as a professional ballerina.
‘In my final year, I auditioned and got my first job as a professional ballet dancer with the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium. I lived and danced there from the age of 19 to 21.
‘My two years living abroad were an amazing experience, and I was able to work closely with famous choreographers such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Marcia Haydée.
‘In 2016 I was invited to audition for a place back with the Royal Ballet and was offered a lifetime contract. I have now been a corps de ballet artist for the past two years, and in the near future I will be working hard to keep progressing through the ranks of the company, with the goal of becoming a principal dancer.’
Mica has just finished in the successful Royal Ballet run of Swan Lake, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, performing 26 shows at the Royal Opera House, and is about to head to Madrid with the production.
Travel has played a big part for her at the Royal Ballet so far: ‘In my time with the company I have been fortunate enough to take part in end of season tours to Australia, Japan, Hungary and Spain, all of which were a dream come true for any young ballerina.’
On her most recent works, Swan Lake and Giselle, Mica says they were two of the ‘hardest yet most rewarding’ so far in her repertoire.
‘But they are also two of my personal favourites. I love being able to play a character and enjoy the extra challenge of having to act and tell a story.
‘I have always loved dancing, and am lucky to have some natural qualities such as musicality, coordination and flow. However, natural ability can only get you so far in ballet. To reach a professional standard you have to put lots of work into building strength and perfecting your classical technique, and you also need creativity to develop your own artistic and performance skills.
‘Ballet does require a lot of discipline, but I truly believe the most important attributes in becoming a ballerina are hard work and a love and passion for dancing.’
It would seem that this young, talented ballerina will go far, not just in dancing but in life, thanks to this attitude.
Mica will be teaching a week-long workshop from July 30 until August 3 at St Gregory’s School in Tunbridge Wells, where she hopes to inspire young dancers. To book tickets to the ‘Mica Bradbury’s Ballet Summer School’, email email@example.com. The cost of the workshop is £85.