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Stuart Patterson, The Daily Record
Tim Cornwell, The Scotsman
May 7 2010

 

Dancer Lucas Campbell has become the first Scot to graduate from an exclusive Russian ballet school. The 20-year-old, who grew up in Aberdeen, has spent years training at the Perm State Ballet School, in the shadow of the Ural mountains.

He couldn’t speak a word of Russian when he arrived – and had to cope with winter temperatures as low as -40 degrees.

And his mum Deborah revealed the training was intense – and risky. She said: “In one class a pair of scissors was put underneath his legs, so if he went too low he would stab himself. There is no health and safety there but it is a fantastic school.”

She added: “Lucas is just incredible. He gave up his life in the UK to go to a count ry where he didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language.”But he wants to dance so much that he just got on with it. The boy is phenomenal. I am very, very proud of him.”

At the age of seven, despite never having danced, Lucas won an audition for a Scottish Ballet production of The Nutcracker. Deborah, 48, and dad David were told he had great ability. But he suffered abuse from other schoolkids – and quit ballet after just a year.

Thee years later, the family moved to Northampton in England – where dancing was compulsory at school.

After he did a summer ballet course, a former dancing teacher saw him and recommended him to the prestigious Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

Former teacher Helen Clarke told The Scotsman: “He oozed talent; I was bowled over. It shone from him, and it was really something special, though clearly he hadn’t been through classical ballet training.

“For somebody that’s had just a few years’ training, compared to the majority of dancers that started at the age of three, he has done phenomenally well. He’s just a natural talent.”

A year later, a teacher from the Perm School in Russia invited him to join a three-year diploma course. It has trained soloists who dance all over the world.

His parents sold their house to raise the cash for him there aged 17. He was one of only two foreigners in his class. The other boy was Japanese.

Lucas had to pass exams in history and music – in Russian. He graduated in the top five of his class and now speaks Russian so well he is often mistaken for a native.

For the last year, he’s been on a postgraduate course, working for just £20 a week and dancing to crowds of about 800 every night but Mr Campbell has had the chance to dance solo roles in classic ballets, such as Giselle and Swan Lake

Deborah said: “In February, he was struck down by pancreatis and the battery died on his phone. For three days we didn’t know if he was alive.But all Lucas wants to do is dance and if that means he has to starve and freeze, that’s what he’s going to do.”

But after four years in some of the country’s remotest regions, the talented 20-year-old is struggling to find a job in Britain – or even in the European Union.

Yesterday, from Russia, Lucas said: “The pay is terrible here but you do it for the job satisfaction. “Dancing to people regularly is what it’s all for. I would love to come home but getting on that first rung of the ladder is very difficult.”
 
Mr Campbell and his parents, David and Deborah, who now live near Northampton, are trying to find him a post as a dancer in Britain or elsewhere in Europe.

His mother said: “We’re keen to get him back. He’s living in really extreme circumstances in order to be a soloist and get good roles.” The family has contacted several British dance companies, but getting home for auditions has proved difficult.

 

Copyright 2010 by The Daily Record
Copyright 2010 by The Scotsman

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