Grantham’s ‘Billy Elliot’ is back in town with his dance company

Paul Chantry oversees rehearsals. Photo Iacopo Di Luigi
Paul Chantry oversees rehearsals. Photo Iacopo Di Luigi
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More than a decade after leaving his home town, a talented ballet dancer is returning to Grantham with his own dance company.

Paul Chantry, known to many as Grantham’s Billy Elliot, is bringing the Chantry Dance Company to the town centre where it will set up its base in the Dance Pointe studio. Paul and his wife, Rae, who acts as his assistant, will run the company from Grantham while it continues to perform nationwide. The couple, who were married in St Wulfram’s Church last year, will celebrate Paul’s return with a performance at the Guildhall Arts Centre in October.

As well as being a base for its dancers to rehearse day to day, Paul and Rae want to use their new studio for their education and outreach work. The company gives aspiring young dancers the opportunity to associate with and learn from professionals and learn what professional company life is like. With this in mind CDC will run a Summer School in Grantham from August 19 to 23 for over-12s. Each day will be timetabled in the same way it is for the professional dancers of the company. There will be classes, creation, rehearsal and a new dance created by Paul for them to perform. The company also runs an Associate Programme for the most promising dancers.

Paul said he was looking forward to returning to Grantham and giving something back after fundraising in the town helped him to pay for accommodation and books when he left to go to the Central School of Ballet in London in 2001. He said: “When the idea of returning first came up it took a while to sink in, but as time goes on I am truly happy with the thought of it.”

Rae said: “Taking the company out of London falls in with our mission and ethos because it gives us so many more opportunities to bring dance to people who do not normally get the chance to interract with dancers.”

Paul and Rae stress their dance is contemporary ballet, which does not conform to the normal restrictions of traditional ballet.

Since Paul left ballet school, he has danced in London’s West End, for Sadler’s Wells and all over the world. He is an accomplished choreographer and has worked on the UK tour of Horrible Histories.

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