Rotherham College Performing Arts student, Ebony Ruskin, performing as a dancing doll as part of DN12, pictured left from centre, second row Photo by Marie Caley

Dance student dazzles at BBC auditions

23 January 2020

Dreams of sweet success got just a little bit closer for Rotherham College student, Ebony Rankin, who has shimmied through to the callbacks stage of the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.

The BBC1 hit show sees performers of any age and dance style compete to win £50,000 and a chance to perform on Strictly Come Dancing.

Ebony, a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts learner, auditioned for the show with her dance group, DN12. Their energy-packed ‘dancing dolls’ routine won over the audience, who vote to secure their favourite dancers a place in the next round.

Ebony says making it through to callbacks was one of the most momentous points of her career. She said: “It was an overwhelming and really proud moment for us because we have worked really hard as a team to get to where we are in just two years. I’d feel incredibly lucky to get to the live shows because there’s only about 12 acts that get through out of everybody who auditions.”

As well as putting in extra hours in rehearsals whilst preparing for the show, Ebony said her Performing Arts course at Rotherham College was instrumental in preparing her for competitions like The Greatest Dancer and progressing into the performance industry.

She said: “Doing the Performing and Production Arts course, and Musical Theatre has really helped me. In The Greatest Dancer Performance the theme was ‘dolls’, so we needed to be constantly performing and not just dancing.

“It trains you how to be very professional for the industry – ready for whatever you go into. Even though I was part of a big group, I was chosen as the main speaker where I had to be professional and be interviewed in front of the camera.”

Rotherham College’s Dance Lecturer Ben Wainwright has been teaching Ebony for the past year and a half and says everyone is rooting for her.

Ben said: “Ebony is hardworking, enthusiastic, and a real team player. It’s really exciting when students get to be part of something like The Greatest Dancer because it shows everyone the kind of work we do at the College, what our students are capable of, and how we prepare them for the professional industry.

“As a musical theatre student, you take part in singing, acting and dance, which are obviously key skills for the industry. We also do audition preparation and three in-house live performances each year, as well as several workshops.”

Beyond College and The Greatest Dancer, Ebony dreams of performing on the West End and has recently auditioned for a place at a prestigious dance and drama school in London.

Reflecting on her journey over the past few years Ebony said: “Sometimes it’s hard and you can think you’re not good enough but – you’ve got to have a uniqueness about yourself and a belief that you can do whatever you want – it’s about waiting when the time is right, and your time will come.”

You can watch DN12’s ‘dancing dolls’ performance on BBC iPlayer here

The Greatest Dancer is shown at 7.00pm on Saturdays on BBC1.

Callbacks will be shown this Saturday (26th January) where it will be revealed if DN12 have made it through to the live shows. Dance Captains: Girls Aloud’s Cheryl, Glee star Matthew Morrison, Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse, and renowned dancer and choreographer Todrick Hall select which dancers they will take through.


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