Skip navigation

By Andrew Ffrench
The Oxford Mail
January 13, 2011


A PUB landlord’s son has pirouetted into a dream-come-true Billy Elliot story.

Young ballet dancer James French lives at the Broadways pub, in Didcot, and has just secured a spot performing with the Royal Ballet, in Covent Garden. The nine-year-old proved a natural since his first lessons with Our Lady’s Abingdon Junior School and admits he is looking forward to the big stage.

James, who lives with his parents and sister, has been training with the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden since September. Last week, the youngster was invited to audition for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House and was one of four boys to be selected for a role.

Mum Jacqui Sporle, 51, said: “James’s sister Danielle, 14, is at the Central School of Ballet in London and James started out by copying his sister. He started having lessons with Sarah Doidge at Our Lady’s, which he still attends.

“James has seen the film Billy Elliot and really enjoyed it.

“We were in London when we got a call asking him to come for an audition and we were delighted when he got the part. He is one of a number of boys who will be playing hedgehogs and his rehearsals are starting soon. Alice in Wonderland is obviously a well-known Oxford story, so it will be interesting to see how it is adapted for the ballet.”

James said: “I was happy just to get an audition but now I have got the part I am really looking forward to it.”

James’s father, Paul French, 53, the licencee of Broadways pub in Broadway, added: “It is much more acceptable these days for boys to do dance and I’m sure James will enjoy performing at the Royal Opera House.”

Brendan O’Neill, headteacher of Our Lady’s Abingdon Junior School, said: “James started ballet at the school when he was about five years old. We are delighted that he has got this opportunity and we wish him well with his endeavours.”

The Royal Ballet production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House runs from March 2-15. There is a gala performance on February 28 of the full-length ballet created by Christopher Wheeldon.

The music, the first new, full-length ballet score for the Royal Ballet for 20 years, is by Joby Talbot and will be conducted by Barry Wordsworth, music director of the Royal Ballet.

Nicholas Wright, whose adaptations have included Oxford author Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials at the National Theatre, is also involved.

In 2000, the film Billy Elliot starred Jamie Bell as a young ballet dancer in the North East and Julie Walters as his tutor.

A stage adaptation, Billy Elliot the Musical, arrived in London’s West End in 2005.


Copyright 2011 Newsquest Media Group

One Comment

    • rebecca
    • Posted January 6, 2013 at 7:31 am
    • Permalink

    this boy james french is amazing to get so far in his target. good luck james your doing great !!!:):):):):)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: