Meet the Midlands dancers living their dreams in Wolverhampton ballet production - with pictures

Young dancers from across the Midlands are currently living their dreams rehearsing for a professional production of a ballet double bill, set to hit the stage in Wolverhampton.

The double bill of Nutcracker Suite & Ballet Études will be presented by English Youth Ballet at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from September 29 to September 30.

The English Youth Ballet is one of the UK’s largest ballet companies and previously won The Stage Award for special achievement in regional theatre.

The ballet will star international principal dancers Phillip Tunstall, Monica Tapiador, Samantha Camejo, Amy Drew and Oliver Speers.

All the soloist and corps de ballet roles in the production will be performed by 100 of the finest dancers from the ages eight to 18 from the local area.

In photo (from left to right). Back line: Natasha Korbes, Poppy Millington, Bethany Eades, Olivia Tonks, Devon Nelson, Abbie Jordan, Georgina Evanson, Emily Lynch, Izabelle Higgs. 3rd line: Will Foggin, Mia Davis. 2nd line: Soraya Miller, Isabella Ferrara, Riley Hembery, Simran Ball, Isaac Millington, Maizie-Grace Keay, Gurleen Kang. Front line: Milan Peters, Lily-Mae Walker , Ruby Burton, Phoebe Salter. Photo by: Ben Garner

One dancer, James Garrington aged 14, lives in Netherton and goes to Birmingham Ormiston Academy. He is training at the Debonair Dance Academy. He says: “I started dancing when I was about 6 years old I decided I wanted to take up lessons and from there I took up ballet.

"I’ve danced with EYB before and I am looking forward to being with the professional dancers who are really experienced. Hopefully they will give me all their tips and tricks.

"In the future I would like to do something to do with the stage – perhaps at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre even. I’d like to be a ballet dancer and to dance in the Birmingham Royal Ballet.”

Cast member Emily O’Connor lives in Dudley and goes to Dudley College. She is training at the Livingston Academy of Dance, saying that: “I started dancing when I was 4 years old. I think it was my mum and dad’s idea for me to go.

"I am really excited about the performance experience at EYB and learning a new ballet. I danced with EYB before in Swan Lake – where I was a lead Swan.

"I’m not sure what I’d like to do in the future. I think I’d either like to become a professional dancer or a dance teacher.”

Ballet Études is a one-act homage to classical ballet training. It begins with traditional ballet exercises at the barre and ends with bravura displays with an orchestration that contains arrangements of Carl Czerny’s piano studies.

The Nutcracker Prince escorts Clara to the Kingdom of Sweets where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. A divertissements of dances, each representing a sweet is given in her honour as the grand Sugar Plum pas de deux with the Prince brings the finale to a glorious close with Tchaikovsky’s exquisite orchestral score.

In photo (from left to right): Back line: Amelia Freeman, Abbie Phillips, Aimee McCloughlin. Front line: Munashe Brouder, Taylor Sweet, Darcie Norton, Grace Hammond. Photo by: Ben Garner

Janet Lewis MBE said: “The company is especially excited about presenting our newest ballet - Ballet Études in Aylesbury.

"The music by Carl Czerny is absolutely beautiful and the ballet cleverly introduces the audience to the rigours of classical ballet training and performance.”

The English Youth Ballet held a big audition for the ballet at the Grand Theatre in May with over 200 young hopeful dancers turning up to the two auditions which were held on the stage.

Janet said that “EYB is all about providing extra performance experience to young dancers.

"We saw a very pleasing standard at the audition today and it was lovely to see lots of enthusiasm.”

Rehearsals for the ballet are currently taking place at Coppice Performing Arts School.

Oliver Speers, one of EYB’s principal dancers and the casts' current coach said that: “the young dancers are treated like professional dancers during rehearsals – we work them hard but the results are fantastic! They learn what the life of a professional dancer is like.

"They are living their dream and they just love it!”

Oliver Speers in Nuts Jete. Photo by: Peter Mares

The young cast will rehearse for 60 hours over 10 days for the production. During those days EYB take over 3 of the biggest rooms in the school and run rehearsals simultaneously in each room.

The EYB have worked with over 800 young dancers across the UK in 2016 with over 1500 auditioning. Over 15,000 people watched the company in eight towns and cities in 2016, with the company also raising over £16,000 through performances for children's hospitals in the same year.

Wolverhampton cast member Ruby Burton aged 9 lives in Bilston and goes to Holy Trinity Catholic Primary. Of the opportunity, she said that: “I started dancing when I was 3 years old, I went to dancing because whenever we went on holiday I used to dance. I am looking forward to the shows and the costumes, and in the future I want to carry on my dancing.”

Joining her is 16-year-old Devon Nelson, who lives in Graiseley and goes to Highfields Academy and is currently training at the Denise Robinson School of Dance. He said that: “I started dancing only last year around March time, I had done musical theatre for a while and I started to lean more towards the dance. It felt the right thing to do.

"I am looking forward to working with the professionals at EYB and I know that they will give good corrections and advice about my dancing. Hopefully, I would like to be a contemporary choreographer in the future.

"I don’t think I want to go into professional dancing but if I got the opportunity I would definitely take it. My dream dance company that I’d like to choreograph for would be Alvin Ailey in America.”

Walsall cast member, 14-year-old Abbie Phillips, lives in Bentley and goes to St Thomas More Catholic School and is training at the Dance Xtreme. She said that: “I started dancing when I was 10 years old. I felt like I needed a hobby and I felt like it would further my social skills.

"I am looking forward to improving my dance skills at EYB and also to making new friends."

In photo (from left to right): Polly Porter, Jaycee McDonald-Smith, Shennai Sahota. Photo by: Ben Garner

11-year-old Cannock dancer Shennai goes to Five Ways Primary is excited to get on stage in Wolverhampton, saying: “I am looking forward to dancing on the stage at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton, It’s a really big stage. I am excited about dancing on stage on pointe."

The English Youth Ballet double bill featuring The Nutcracker and Ballet Etudes comes to Wolverhampton Grand theatre from September 29 to September 30.

For more information, click here.

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