'My dad’s so proud he cries tears of joy': Birmingham student James Lovell talks joy over role in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Hippodrome

By Maria Cusine | Birmingham | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

He could almost be a real life Billy Elliot.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Pictures by: Johan Persson

From a working class background, young James Lovall has been dancing since the age of three. Now aged 19 he has been handpicked by one of ballet’s greats to take on a lead role with one of the nation's top dance companies - and that's before he even graduated.

"It's crazy. It's overwhelming. I really have to pinch myself at times," admits James, who in a few days time will be performing at Birmingham Hippodrome as he takes on the role of the Prince in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

The talented young dancer has been dancing 'ever since I first heard a song on the radio' and he hasn't stop since.

"My best friend was at dance class and my mum agreed I could join her...and I've not stopped since then."

James' background is state school, his mother is a secretary and his father a quarryman.

"I have a normal background and my dad certainly didn't think dancing was the path I should take. He thought of it as a girl's hobby not a man's career.

"My mum persuaded him going to dance classes would provide me with good discpline, so they agreed I could go.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Pictures by: Johan Persson


"Now my dad sits and cries when he watches me in the ballet. It shows just how much things have changed," he says.

"When I was nine I watched Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty and I thought: I want to do that.

It was my dream come true. And although I was only in my second year I had no hesitation in accepting the offer. It was an instant yes from me," hesaid.

"My heart stopped when the email came through.


"It's still so hard to believe. I do have to pinch myself at times."

As a former dance student in Birmingham James is looking forward to being back in the city - but also nervous.

James Lovell

"My year are coming to see me perform. It will be exciting but I will also be nervous. They are coming to see me in the lead role - when I haven't even graduated."

James said he plans to visit the school while back in the Midlands to speak to students and the teachers."

In terms of the future, he hopes to stay with the company for many more adventures.

"A tour in Tokyo has just been announced for Swan Lake, which is very exciting.

He admits it's challenging both physically and mentally.

"Rehearsals are rigorous, very hard.

"We rehearse 10-6 and spend that time jumping and leaping around, it's a crazy schedule.

"Getting into the mindset of the character.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Pictures by: Johan Persson

At select performances the lead role of ‘The Prince’ will be danced by former Birmingham student James Lovell, who was previously training at Elmhurst Ballet School based on Bristol Road in the city centre.

James was spotted by Sir Matthew Bourne and was asked to leave his training a year early in order to take a role in Sir Matthew’s Company, New Adventures.

Upon joining the Company, James Lovell was promoted to a Principal role in Swan Lake, one the most challenging and exciting dancing roles in contemporary theatre.

Talking of his experience, James said; “Dancing as a part of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures has been a dream of mine since I first saw their work when I was 15. I still wake up on our days off and have to pinch myself that I’m touring the world with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.”

Also dancing the role of ‘The Prince’ are two much loved New Adventures Principal dancers, Liam Mower and Dominic North.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Pictures by: Johan Persson

They are joined by New Adventures’ star Will Bozier and former English National Ballet star Max Westwell, who was also recently seen in the West End in “An American in Paris”.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake returns to Birmingham with a fresh look for the 21st century.

Retaining the iconic elements of the original production loved by millions around the world, Matthew Bourne and his Associate Artists, award-winning designers Lez Brotherston (Set & Costumes) and Paule Constable (Lighting) have created an exciting re-imagining of the classic production.

Thrilling, audacious, witty and emotive, this Swan Lake is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble, which shattered conventions, turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Pictures by: Johan Persson

Collecting over thirty international accolades including an Olivier Award in the UK and three Tonys on Broadway, Matthew Bourne’s powerful interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece is a passionate and contemporary Swan Lake for our a difficult challenging."

*Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from February 5 to 16.

Maria Cusine

By Maria Cusine

Head of News

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.


Top Stories


More from the Express & Star

UK & International News