Dancers ‘living their dream’

Dancers in rehearsal for Swan Lake.
Dancers in rehearsal for Swan Lake.

Sixteen talented young dancers from Portadown are currently in rehearsals for a professional production of the ballet Swan Lake, after being selected by English Youth Ballet (EYB).

Swan Lake will be presented at the Grand Opera House in Belfast on November 9-11.

All the soloist and corps de ballet roles will be performed by 100 of the finest dancers, aged 8–18, from Northern Ireland. The Portadown dancers are Arianna Goh, Nicole Barton, Ella Marshall, Ellie Ruddy, Charlotte Eagle, Emily McKeown, Zarah Freeburn, Evie Judge, Janey Rice, Amelia Bell, Ella Richardson, Abbie Turner, Chloe Cunningham, Grace Eagle, Jessica Doak and Lilia McCoo.

Auditions for the ballet were held at Methodist College in April, with nearly 300 young hopefuls turning up.

Director and founder of EYB Miss Janet Lewis MBE said, “EYB is all about providing extra performance experience to young dancers. We saw a very pleasing standard at the audition and it was lovely to see lots of enthusiasm.”

Rehearsals for the ballet are taking place at Methodist College Belfast. Oliver Speers is one of EYB’s principal dancers. He coaches the young dancers in rehearsals and he will also be starring in the role of Prince Sergei.

He said, “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!”

The young cast will rehearse for just 10 days for the production. Principal dancer Amy Drew will be dancing the leading roles of Odette (the White Swan) and Odile (the Black Swan) and she is training the young cast in rehearsals. She previously danced with the Irish National Ballet.

Amy said, “The advice that I give to the young dancers is that ‘ballet is hard’. But, if you love it, it can be a beautiful and fulfilling career. Keep your head up, and if you face rejection, just keep working hard and focus on your dreams, they can come true!”

Performances are on Thursday, November 9 and Friday, November 10 at 7.30pm and on Saturday, November 11 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

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