Seacroft ballerina, 13, beats odds to win place at prestigious dance school

A talented 13-year-old ballerina from  Seacroft who has autism has beaten the odds to earn the  chance to study at a prestigious performing arts school.

By Mark Lavery
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 9:17 am

Constance Bailey has been offered a place to study ballet at The Hammond School in Chester from September.

But her mum Laura Bailey 45, said Constance's dreams will be shattered unless she can raise the £30,000 a year it will cost to send her daughter to the school for three years.

"I am a single mum in a council flat," said cancer survivor Laura. "I work full time in a low paid NHS job, this is simply impossible for me to afford.

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Constance Bailey Photo: James Hardisty

"I can't afford £30,000 a year, it's more than I earn."

Constance, a student at Abbey Grange C of E School in West Leeds, started dancing aged two at the Janina School in Cross Gates.

When she was seven, Constance moved to the Yorkshire Ballet Academy in Whinmoor and still trains there three nights a week.

She is also part of the Cecchetti associates scheme where the best young dancers in the country are taught by professionals one Sunday a month in Warrington.

Constance Bailey pictured aged three

"I don't drive so it's a bus, two trains and another bus to get there," said Laura, who works as a personal assistant in the NHS.

Laura said Constance has won dozens of gold medals at dance competitions across Yorkshire.

Constance also studied acting at the former Act Up North centre in Kirkstall and is involved with Leeds Grand Youth Theatre.

She has performed in the youth theatre's productions of The Wizard of Oz and the Little Shop of Horrors.

Constance Bailey Photo: James Hardisty

Laura said Constance was diagnosed with a condition called disordered language development with autism when she was three years old.

"Constance has autism but is incredibly creative - as well as ballet she writes poetry and plays," said Laura.

"But she does not fit into 'ordinary school', she needs vocational education and training."

Constance was offered a place at the Hammond School after a video audition in January.

Constance Bailey pictured with one of her many gold medals for ballet dancing

"It was good for her confidence, to show her that she is as good as people tell her," said Laura.

"She was terribly shy and lacking in confidence. Doing ballet and drama really brought her out of her shell and gave her such a strong sense of purpose and a confidence to build on.

"I feel an enormous sense of pride, because despite all the odds being against us - because we don't have the money - she has still managed to achieve it through her own hard work and determination.

"It will give her the opportunity to achieve her dream of being a professional ballet dancer.

"We are looking for corporate sponsorship like a business to sponsor her for the fees.

"We are also looking for people to donate to her gofundme appeal for equipment, uniform and insurance.

Constance Bailey Photo: James Hardisty

"If we can't raise the money and she can't go, the money we have got from the public will go to her summer school and that will be that dream over.

"She has worked very hard for it. She has spent 11 years of her life working her socks off."

Laura said she was diagnosed with thyroid and lymph node cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery at LGI followed by radio iodine therapy at St James' Hospital.

Laura can contacted at [email protected]

Click here to go Constance's gofundme page

Constance Bailey Photo:James Hardisty