Islington teen picked from 1,000’s for famous New York dance school

Kiripul Belay

Kiripul Belay - Credit: Archant

A teenager has been picked from thousands of applicants to attend a famous performing arts college in New York City.

Kirubel Belay, 19, of Mildmay Park, Newington Green, has secured a place at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), founded by the dad of famous British actor Richard Burton in 1964.

Mr Belay, who combines work as a customer service advisor with teaching at the renowned Sylvia Young Theatre School, started dancing at the age of 13.

He said: “To be offered this is everything I’ve ever wanted and more. I haven’t even been to America before. To be given this chance is crazy – New York is one of the world’s dance capitals.”

AMDA was founded by Welshman Philip Burton in 1964. His adopted son Richard Burton, became one of Britain’s most well known actors, having appeared in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Where Eagles Dare.

Mr Belay auditioned for a spot at the Marriott hotel, in Waterloo, last December but feared the worst when he heard nothing back from the organisers.

He said: “I was pretty upset at that point because it took so long. I was over-thinking everything, replaying the situation back and forth in my mind.”

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Mr Belay was finally accepted onto the course in February having been chosen by the director.

He was also awarded a £3,500 scholarship, but remains a long way short of the required £26,000 tuition fees and £4,000 accommodation costs.

With the four year course’s beginning in October, he is in a race against time to obtain the money and is planning a sponsored run and fashion show to garner further support.

He said: “My friends and family know how hard I’m working at this and they’ve contributed to my sponsorship attempts. They’ve all been very helpful.”

He added: “Opportunities in America are far better as mainstream directors and artists are based there. The courses at AMDA challenge the individual and the teaching is tailored to the needs of students. You can really make a name for yourself.”

Jonothan Hart, who has mentored the young protégée since the age of 12, said: “Kirubel has developed rapidly because he is so dedicated. He’s a fighter and has the right attitude. Being accepted into one of the biggest schools in the world is a huge opportunity for him.”

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