Kirsty and Holly given bursaries to pursue their dreams

Kirsty Louise Brankin will get a taste of Hollywood next month when she fulfils her dream of attending the Los Angeles International Dance Academy thanks to a bursary from the Thomas Devlin Fund.

Holly (right) in 'The Ragged Child'.
Holly (right) in 'The Ragged Child'.

The fund has also helped to support Holly McConville’s venture to London to perform in ‘The Ragged Child’ for the National Youth Music Theatre.

Eighteen-year-old Kirsty from Craigavon, who has been dancing since the age of five, heads out to LA at the end of the month with the end goal of getting a gig as a backing dancer for Justin Bieber.

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Kirsty arrives in the States on September 30 and will be staying with a local family during her time in Los Angeles.

Kirsty with some of her trophies.

“It means I’m not in at the deep end,” she said.

“If things work out and I get signed up I’d have to find somewhere but I’ll have been there for three months so it won’t be as daunting.

“The course I’m doing is a three-month intense programme. We start at 8am in the morning and finish at 6pm at night. There’s also extra classes in the evening and at weekends.

“Whenever you graduate you perform for a number of talent agencies. If you show potential they’ll sign you up as a dancer for music video and MTV events and things like that.”

Kirsty has been dancing since she was five with Linda May School of Dance and has featured in four local music videos (including one for local band The Answer).

She was placed second twice in NI Creative Movement and Aerobic Championships and placed first and second twice in Ulster Dance and Fitness Championships. The £2,250 award will cover tuition for the Dance Intensive/Certificate Program offered by the Academy.

She said: “Thanks to this bursary I am able to benefit from expert tuition and develop my dancing skills.

“I got accepted onto the course, but if it hadn’t been for this bursary I don’t think I’d have been able to go.

“It’s been a really big help. If I didn’t do it now I’ll never do it. It’s what I want to do. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Kirsty has picked up a number of awards in her 13 years as a dancer and also auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent and Got To Dance as well as appearing on RTE show Supercrew.

She is a big fan of Justin Bieber and has been in the front row for one of his concerts and met the pop star in person.

If her dream comes true to be a dancer she’d love to feature in one of Bieber’s videos.

Kirsty received her Performing Arts award, along with four other worthy recipients, during an event at the MAC last Thursday.

One of the other award recepients is 15-year-old Craigavon girl Holly McConville, who was awarded £1,750 towards costs associated with taking part in ‘The Ragged Child’ production with the National Youth Music Theatre in London.

Her mum Karen commented: “We’d done a lot of fundraising ourselves and it wasn’t until late on that we found out Holly was getting a bursary from the Thomas Devlin Fund. It was a very welcome boost.

“Holly had the summer of her life performing in ‘The Ragged Child’. The show was out of this world. Holly’s role meant she was on stage for most of the show.

“All the other children in the show were from West End shows. One of the girls is the first Matilda.

“All the cast were stage crew as well so it was an amazing experience for Holly.

“She was chosen for the show by director Jeremy James Taylor who was casting director for Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and the film version of Les Miserables.

“She would love to link up with him again. She has been invited back to perform at their Christmas concert.

“This is the career that Holly wants. She’d love to audition again next year but I don’t know whether that’s feasible either financially or because she’s got her GCSEs.”