Scholarship update: supporting a passion for ballet

Our Stories

“Thank you so much CBTS – for all you do for the Mentors and their passions.”

Our Programs Team has been busy offering new opportunities to young people through our scholarship program.

The team recently received a letter of thanks from one of our Mentor participants, Annabella. She applied for a scholarship in late 2023 for a ballet workshop after auditioning for and gaining a role in “The Suffragettes”.

“It’s always touching when we get letters from young people who share their joy and gratitude at receiving a scholarship for something they’re passionate about. It shows the work we all do here is really making a difference,” shares Dave Geary, Cottage Program Planner.

Here is Annabella’s letter to Cottage:

Dear Cottage by the Sea,

I am writing to you yet again to thank you for your contribution to and support of my passions. After receiving scholarship forms from Dave after his visit to my school, I filled one out in the hopes of getting support for my participation in the Western Ballet Project’s production of “The Suffragettes”. The whole experience only happened thanks to Cottage.

Western Ballet Project is a youth ballet production company that instructs dancers in studios and theatres all across the western suburbs of both Melbourne and regional Victoria. The original ballet productions are taught and performed over the period of a week in order to prepare for show day during school holidays. I have been a part of the Western Ballet Project family for as long as I have participated in Cottage’s Mentor program.

In October last year, I auditioned for “The Suffragettes”, a production based on the story of the activist women’s organisation that fought for the right to vote. I auditioned in the 14+ age group and after a week, I received my critiques and was offered a role in the show as a Politician. Around 40 successful participants were offered a role. After receiving my feedback from the audition, I excitedly filled out the scholarship form.

Playing the role of a Politician, I had to act as if I was a man during the early 1900s. My costume involved a top hat, black pants, a blazer, fancy tie and black ballet shoes. My role as a Politician reflected the treatment of women by men during 1900s in Britain. This role challenged me for obvious reasons, but mostly encouraged me to story-tell through ballet and character.

Every morning for five days, my mum drove me to a dance studio in Melton. We began the day at 8.30am with a 9am morning class, then it was rehearsal time until 4.30pm. After the five days, the cast performed at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds.

This experience has supported me to receive feedback about my ballet technique and work with other dancers and teachers. Ballet and dance as a whole is something I want to pursue when I’m older. By participating in these productions, I have gained more experience and knowledge as I have been surrounded by people similar to me. Using the confidence I have gained from participating in the Mentor program at Cottage by the Sea, I was able to support others and be a great part of the team to produce the performance.

Since performing in “The Suffragettes”, I have also used my knowledge about the story of women’s rights to create historical narrative writing pieces at school for English assessments. My English teacher has been very impressed with my knowledge and storytelling. I’m so thankful for your support!

Thank you so much CBTS – for all you do for the Mentors and their passions.

Kindest regards,
Annabella, Year 9 Mentor participant