A FORMER Castell Alun High School student hopes to inspire a new generation in North Wales to reach for the stars.

Contemporary dancer and choreographer Daisy Howell knew she wanted to dance professionally from the age of nine.

Now aged 25, and a graduate of the prestigious Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, Daisy has performed all over the UK, including at Theatr Clywd in Mold and at London's most famous venue for dance, Sadler's Wells.

A teacher as well as a performer, Daisy has passed on her knowledge and passion of dance to hundreds of others all over the world, from working at the University of Malta to teaching at Queensferry-based NEW Dance, who provide classes and workshops for all ages and abilities.

She also set up her own dance company, called Night People Events, just before the pandemic struck.

It all started when she was accepted, aged 13, into The Centre for Advanced Training in Dance (CAT), based at Greater Manchester's The Lowry arts centre.

Daisy said: "From the age of 13, my parents took me to The Lowry and back every Saturday plus one other evening each week. I used to do my homework sitting in the back of the car.

"As I got older, I made the journey on my own, taking a train and a tram.

"But it never felt like an effort, as I knew that being part of the programme would help me to realise my dream and to become a dancer. As well as setting me on my career path, I made friends for life.

"I really appreciate what my parents did for me and I don't think I would be where I am today if they hadn't sacrificed weekends and evenings and made it possible."

Daisy said accessing high quality dance training can be difficult for young people living in rural areas, but says that it is possible.

"Take advantage of everything that is on your doorstep, she said, "from after school clubs to local dance schools.

"Think about auditioning for The Lowry CAT scheme. I also joined National Youth Dance Wales as a teenager and we used to go on mini tours around the country.

Things have now come full circle for Daisy, who has taken up a part time position as coordinator of the programme that helped her to put on her dancing shoes.

"I've been working for The Lowry CAT programme since February," she said.

"It's obviously been a funny year, with Greater Manchester in some form of lockdown for the majority of it, but we've been back doing in-person teaching since May, and it is lovely to see the young people getting together again, dancing and having fun."

Sally Wyatt, CAT manager, said: "As a student, Daisy was a joyful member of the programme. We are delighted to have her back in the role of coordinator, especially as it is almost audition time again.

"Although entry to the programme is through an audition process, we will look closely at the potential of each student regardless of their previous dance experience.

"We will be looking for those young people who demonstrate exceptional potential, commitment and enthusiasm for dance rather than those who have had the most formal training."

Young dancers are invited to have a taste of what it's like to join the CAT dance programme at an open day at The Lowry on Sunday, June 20 from 9.30am to 1.30pm.

Attendees will be able to speak to tutors and students and also take part in a workshop.

An alternative Zoom-based open evening will run on Friday, June 18 (4.45pm to 6.45pm).

Anyone wanting to try out for a September place on the Lowry CAT scheme can pick up an application form at the open day or download one from the website, ahead of auditions on Sunday, June 27.