Unfortunately, Vanishing Pointe, seems to have vanished...
I don't think there are any easy answers as to why young British dancers are not growing up to be the principal dancers of British ballet companies.
The problem is not limited to south of the "border" - there are very, very few homegrown dancers in the Scottish Ballet. Scottish dancers are auditioning for the company, but clearly they aren't matching up to the talent coming from abroad, or from down south.
The company, and rightly so, is confident in the ability and talents of their current crop of dancers. But, I wonder if the situation is becoming one of a circular effect. With so few Scottish dancers in the company, there are few role models for young Scottish dancers and perhaps little reason for them to believe that they could be on that stage someday. The Sunday Sports section are full of stories on football, rugby and cricket players who are success stories from a wide range of economic and geographical backgrounds within Scotland. They are the 'little Johnnys' from down the street who made it big.
But there are almost no such stories in ballet - no-one that someone knows who made it big. The European dancers may impress the future Scottish dancers, but their backgrounds are more of a mystery - no direct example or proof to budding dancers that it is possible to succeed.
In fact, the only real Scottish success story, in the ballet world, that has been captured in recent press was that of a dancer with Ballet West, who performed at the Edinburgh Festival. He was one of three (or four?) brothers who all made it into the Royal Ballet School, and he was now making his first appearance on stage in Scotland as part of the big ballet company at the International Festival. Now there's an inspirational story for young Scottish ballet dancers...except that this dancer had to travel across the Atlantic to be a success.
And one has to wonder if part of the problem is that, though the population of the UK is not large, there are just three or four big ballet companies. So, if you don't make it into the Royal Ballet, the BRB, the ENB or the Scottish Ballet, you are unlikely to ever get any press, and thus in many people's eyes, to have made it big. In the US, and to some extent, in other European countries, there are small and medium sized companies with great reputations, and great press. One does not have to make it into ABT, SFB, NYCB etc to be considered to have made it in the ballet world.
And with so many companies, there are that many more chances for young dancers to rub shoulders with the professionals. With so little touring going on, there are huge gaps in the UK, where young dancers who don't have the means to travel, are unlikely to see top quality ballet or get up close to professional dancers. Young people need role models, otherwise they may lose focus on their future goals, especially in careers like ballet, which may not be popular with their peers or even parents.
Another thing, which has struck me as an American now living in the UK, is the heavy focus on exams, both in ballet and in schools. I see two fronts on which this might be detrimental to budding ballet dancers.
First of all, I am always perplexed by all the exams in the RAD classes. While, as an adult, I thrived on working towards the competitive skating tests in the US, I would not have been nearly so keen to be doing exams at 10 - 11 - 12 or younger. And it seems that there are always tests occuring, so that must take away from the time the teacher has to work with the class if they have to prep for and schedule exams. Not to mention driving away possibly dedicated dancers who aren't into the exams. I certainly think there are probably many very good aspects of the exams, but could they be off putting to a number of budding dancers. And after all, in the upper levels of pre-professional schools and as professionals, self motivation is very important - one must improve without having an exam as a benchmark.
Also, I wonder if the very regimented academic system in the UK doesn't deter some budding dancers. With such early and heavy emphasis on GCSEs and A-levels, and essentially having to decide one's future at a very early age, are there a lot of potential professional dancers who drop out between 10 - 13 because they feel they must choose between the arts or academics. Focus too much on ballet, and if it doesn't work out you've lost the chance to go to Uni by not working hard enough on GCSEs and A-levels. And though you can do dance at GCSE and A-level, those credentials won't get you into other Uni courses or prepare you for other careers.
In the US, there is much less rush to decide one's future. Yes, there is pressure to go to a good college and taking SATs, but you don't have to choose you course until you are well into Uni, and Uni admissions look at a whole person, not just grades and exam scores. So someone can focus on dance in their early teens, possibly have a slight academic lapse, but not have to worry at the same time about their entire future academic career. In fact, job interviewers and university admissions comittees are often very impressed by someone who has the dedication, discipline and passion to pursue a career like ballet even with other weaknesses in an application. And so if ballet doesn't work out, they can go on to many different careers. For instance, in my research on former School of American Ballet dancers who have particpate in the annual workshops - and these are the creme de la creme of US ballet students - many have gone on to professional ballet careers, but just as many to great Unis and fulfilling careers. There are the literal basket cases, but I think if one is wise, the risks are far fewer in the US.
And so maybe this is why the drop off in the UK is around 11 - 12 - 13. Students and parents are nervous about taking the real or perceived 'leap of faith' - Dance or Uni/Further Education.
I'd love to hear from native Brits about this, as my impressions are from an outsider's point of view.