top of page

White Doves cast spotlight: Introducing Leah McNally and Niamh Scates

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Ahead of an intensive rehearsal period this summer, we caught up with local dancers Leah McNally and Niamh Scates who have been cast in principal Junior Company roles in White Doves, the new ballet which will be performed at The MAC Belfast from 3-5 August 2023.

White Doves Junior Company members Leah McNally and Niamh Scates. Both dancers perform classical ballet solos in tutus.

A portrait of dancer Leah McNally from Belfast
Belfast dancer Leah McNally who will perform the role of 'Betty' in White Doves at the MAC this August.

Introducing Leah McNally, who will be performing the principal role of 'Mairead' in White Doves this August.


Leah is a student at St Dominic's Grammar School Belfast and dances with Rana's School of Ballet and High Points Youth Ballet.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get here?

I began ballet at the age of four, after I made my mum bring me to ballet classes at Rana’s School of Ballet. As a child, I always loved watching ballet on TV and wanted to try it for myself. My love of ballet grew and I joined High Points Youth Ballet to further increase my ballet training whilst continuing my RAD grades with Rana’s School of Ballet where I’m currently working towards my Advanced 1. Ever since, ballet has been a massive part of my life and I continue to enjoy it every day.


Ballet dancer Leah McNally performing a classical solo. She is on stage, and wears a lilac tutu adorned with flowers, pale tights and pointe shoes. She is en pointe with her arms in fifth.
Leah performing a variation from La Fille Mal Gardee at YAGP Barcelona in December 2022. Image by LK Studio.

What are some recent performance or training highlights?

Ballet dancer Leah McNally performing a classical solo. She is on stage, and wears a lilac tutu adorned with flowers.
Leah performing a variation from La Fille Mal Gardee at YAGP Barcelona in December 2022. Image by LK Studio.

My favourite performance would be performing Swan Lake at the Grand Opera House with English Youth Ballet, my first ever full ballet. More recent highlights include Nutcracker and Paquita with High Points Youth Ballet.

At YAGP Barcelona, I had an opportunity to have class with one of the best ballet teachers in the world, Daria Klimentova. Currently, I am training to compete in YAGP Paris in November.



In White Doves, you will be performing as a character based on a real person from history. Is this different from your previous roles?

I am excited to perform the character of 'Mairead' as this opportunity will allow for me to gain experience and improve my performance skills while giving me the ability to study the person and their story.


Previously, I have performed roles in ballets such as Paquita, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, which were not created based on a real person in history.



Lastly, do you have a favourite dance performance? Giselle is my favourite ballet as the music is beautiful and the choreography is very intricate. My favourite portrayals of Giselle are by Marianela Nuñez and Evgenia Obratzsova as they convey what Giselle is feeling throughout, portraying her change in emotion while dancing very complicated choreography and making it look simple and effortless.


 

Dancer Niamh Scates. She is smiling to the camera. She wears a deep purple lyrical costume.
Comber dancer Niamh Scates who will perform the role of 'Betty' in White Doves at the MAC this August.

Introducing Niamh Scates, who will be performing the principal role of 'Betty' in White Doves this August.


Niamh is a student at Bloomfield Collegiate and dances with Ards Dance Company.


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get here?


I started dancing when I was three alongside gymnastics, but there came a point when I had to choose between the two. I have always loved to dance, including jazz, lyrical, contemporary and acro, but ballet has always been my favourite. I also play the clarinet and love music and rhythm which I think has helped me in dance.

Ballet dancer Niamh Scates is jumping through the air as she dances a ballet solo. She wears a white tutu and pale tights.
Niamh Scates. Image by Bradley Henderson.

Over 65 dancers auditioned for a role in White Doves. What was the audition like for you?

The thought of going into a proper, more advanced audition in person with some older dancers was scary. I didn't think I was good enough to be selected because everyone who auditioned was very good and it was very intense, but enjoyable.

Receiving the offer of dancing 'Betty' in White Doves was amazing and I can't wait to start rehearsals.


Dancer Niamh Scates is midair with the bright blue sky behind her.
Niamh Scates. Image by Bradley Henderson.

What has your proudest moment been as a dancer?


Apart from being cast in White Doves, my proudest moment would be getting selected to join Elmhurst Ballet School for their Summer Intensive last year.

Also, I was selected to join a team of dancers from Northern Ireland to travel to Russia with 'Ballet without Borders' to tour and take part in a

ballet festival, which was unfortunately cancelled when the pandemic arrived.



What are you most looking forward to about joining the White Doves Junior Company?

Most of all, I am looking forward to working alongside professionals and learning from them. Also, getting the experience of performing in a proper ballet in a production with live musicians is very exciting. And of course - meeting new people will be fun.



Leah and Niamh will perform principal roles in White Doves at the MAC Belfast from 3 - 5 August 2023. Learn more and book tickets here.




White Doves web banner reads 'Six Dance Collective presents White Doves, a new ballet for Belfast. 3-5 August 2023, The MAC Belfast. Tickets on sale now.'


Comments


bottom of page