Call of Beauty
THE English Youth Ballet is to take to the stage in a sensational production of Sleeping Beauty at the Playhouse Theatre in Weston-super-Mare this week.
The outstanding cast that will take to the stage includes 81 young dancers aged from eight to 18 from the Bristol and Weston area.
They will be joined by principal ballerinas from some of the most renowned ballet companies in the world, including British performers Richard Read, Oliver Speers, Julianne Rice-Oxley and Trevor Wood, French dancers Adeline Kaiser and Juliana Bastos and Australian dancers Amy Drew and Brenden Bratulic.
Janet Lewis, English Youth Ballet director said, "It has been a very special experience for the young dancers having the professional principal dancers coaching them in their roles.
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"Our wonderful principals who have danced all over the globe are such an inspiration to the young dancers."
More than 1,500 young dancers auditioned in 2012 for a chance to perform in the prestigious production.
Ella Pratten, aged 16, from Downend, who will be playing Aurora's Nurse, started dancing at the age of three at Stapleton School of Dancing.
Ella said: "I'm excited about the performance. I danced for English Youth Ballet in 2009 in Coppélia and it was really fun.
"My favourite part is getting to perform on stage. I only get nervous sometimes."
Sisters Niamh Jones, eight, and Megan Jones, 11, will be dancing alongside each other in the production. Niamh, who first started dancing at the age of four, is one of the youngest cast members.
Niamh said: "I think it's really fun. We have been rehearsing six hours a day. I'm enjoying it."
Both girls do tae kwon do which helps their flexibility and also their dancing.
Megan, who attends Bailey's Court Primary School with her sister said, "I had to miss my black belt grading to dance with EYB.
"I chose dance because you can grade every three months, but dancing with EYB only comes around once a year."
Megan added: "I like getting to dance with Niamh. Normally you dance alone, but we get to do this performance together."
The large cast of 88 dancers means EYB's production of Sleeping Beauty recreates the grandeur and scale as was originally intended.
Miss Lewis said: "Our production of Sleeping Beauty is an epic one. We have been rehearsing at Clevedon School for 11 days in total over the last month.
"The young dancers have been challenged like never before and it is remarkable how much they achieve in such a short period of time. The rehearsals have been very intensive."
Sleeping Beauty's masterful choreography is faithful to Marius Petipa's original version and has been created by Janet Lewis MBE, English Youth Ballet's artistic director, and her team.
Some 260 costumes designed by Keith Bish are used in the production, with more than 140 pairs of ballet shoes being worn.
Sadie Ferguson, 14 from Stockwood, who will be playing one of Aurora's friends in Sleeping Beauty said dancing with the English Youth Ballet has been a great experience.
She said, "Rehearsals have been going really well and I'm very excited.
"It has been a really good insight into what I want to do when I'm older."
Money raised during the performances will go to the Bristol Children's Hospital. Performances start on Friday, March 8, at 7.30pm and Saturday, March 9 at 2.30pm/7.30pm.
For tickets call 01934 645544 or visit www.theplayhouse.co.uk.