A talented Ribble Valley dancer, who trained with the Royal Ballet and has worked with stars of the stage and screen, is now teaching and working with local production companies
Dancer Aimee Williamson, who has toured nationally and internationally with Ballet Cymru, has also worked with many well-known names in theatre, film and music.
Aimee, who attended Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, originally trained with the Royal Ballet School progressing to the Rambert School of Ballet in London from where she graduated with First Class Honours.
“Training with the Rambert in Richmond was quite a culture shock for a 16-year-old who had hardly ever left the Ribble Valley! I was living in London and I loved the fast-paced life, the theatres – there was so much to take in!”
During her three years in the capital Aimee studied contemporary dance and classical ballet: “We would also have guest choreographers coming in to work with us, doing workshops and repertoire. We also did pilates, yoga and conceptual studies – the history of dance and bio-mechanics. It was a very broad course spanning many aspects of dance.”
When she graduated, Aimee joined Ballet Cymru touring the UK and Italy, performing a huge variety of work: “Some work I helped to create others were reimagined classics like Giselle,” explains Aimee, who at that time also worked with Cerys Matthews on a collaboration named after the singer’s album Tir (meaning ‘land’ in Welsh).
“We did lots of dance duets while Cerys was on stage, we were interpreting her songs and it was wonderful! It was so beautiful,” says Aimee.
At the age of 21 Aimee returned to the Ribble Valley: “It’s home for me,” she says. “I realised that being close to nature provides a real balance for me. If you can do your work in a place you love, what more could you wish for?”
On her return to Clitheroe, Aimee started up as a dance teacher and freelance dancer, taking up work with local singers, musicians, independent dance companies and working on large-scale film projects.
“That was before lockdown then everything was put on pause,” she recalls. “Everything within the arts sector just stopped and I think you start to look inwards and dance just for yourself. I had done theatre and worked as a body double on films so I missed the camaraderie working with fellow dancers, the make-up people the camera crew all coming together to make something beautiful,” says Aimee, who began to teach dance via Zoom.
“The prospect was quite daunting, but it worked really well for both adults and children. People who had never considered doing ballet or any sort of dance, who had been quite intimidated by the thought of going into a dance studio full of mirrors, were happy to do it from home and it was wonderful!
“I like the idea of dancing for wellbeing and once we started it, it was really lovely. You can just dance for the sheer enjoyment, take ownership of it, it was giving people something nice to do in troubled times, so it was very rewarding too – it was like taking dance back to its roots.”
As to looking to the future, Aimee is looking forward to the 2022 launch of a big screen film she has worked on and is hoping to collaborate more with local musicians and artistes.
“At the moment it’s quite difficult as everything is still quite unsure. I think outdoor theatre will be coming back so that’s good as you meet so many wonderful people. Over the past few years I have met artistes from the world of film, circus and music – all incredibly creative, talented people,” says Aimee who also loves to travel.
Having visited India, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and South America, her travels have provided much inspiration: “It has definitely helped my work. It also makes you realise just how small we are on this earth in the grand scheme of things, but we can all put something beautiful back into the world. We can carve out our own space and make a difference.”