by Ian Bunting
Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertizer
May 18, 2011
THE family of four hugely successful ballet dancing brothers have paid tribute to the Airdrie community for their part in the boys’ fantastic development. Former Petersburn lads Russell (22), Ross (20), Ryan (17) and Reece (16) Clarke are strutting their stuff on two continents after starting out on their road to stardom in Monklands.
Russell and Ross are now based in Phoenix, Arizona, with the Ballet Arizona company while Ryan and Reece stay with their parents in Twickenham, London, where they attend the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden.
Their dad Robert (52), describes the fantastic support they received during their time in Monklands. He said: “We moved to Twickenham from Petersburn four-and-a-half-years ago after the boys got places at the Royal Ballet School to be central to their base.
“All four were pupils at Rochsolloch Primary School and then went on to the Janis Ridley School of Dance in Coatbridge. “They nurtured the boys superbly through training and, more importantly, kept them active and off the streets, which helped them all get places at the Royal Ballet School.
“To achieve that same route on four separate occasions in one family has never been done in the school’s history and was truly excellent as the competition for places is intense.”
Robert still has family members living in Airdrie and locals are always keen to know how the boys are doing.
Robert said: “People are well aware of the boys.
“The Advertiser used to provide updates and ran a lot of stories on their progress. The last communication locals had was a BBC documentary four years ago, which followed our move from Petersburn to Twickenham. Our family always get asked how the boys are doing so it’s great to share with them that they are progressing strongly.”
Stateside-based Ross and Russell have filled principal roles in top-line productions including Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker.
Ryan and Reece are still doing their upper-school training but are already making significant progress.
Last year all four of the lads performed in The Nutcracker at the same time… thousands of miles apart in Phoenix and London.
Robert said: “We recently watched Reece at the Royal Opera House competing in the Young British Dancer of the Year competition and he ended up with the Sibley Dowell Award, which goes to the dancer with the most potential in Britain.
“All the boys are now starting to get recognition for all of the hard work they’ve put in. They never have a day off. Even when they’re not in school they still have to maintain fitness.
“The two oldest are firmly established dancers and the two youngest are well on their way. We are immensely proud of all of them and they have very bright futures ahead of them.”
The family also wish to thank people within their old community for their support. Robert said: “The boys will be forever grateful to the people of Airdrie. They still get supported and sponsored by Albert Bartlett, which we are very grateful for.
“Dr John Reid was also very good at a time when the family were struggling financially and his door was always open. We got a letter recently from Pamela Nash too, which basically said she’d like to step into Dr Reid’s shoes and that’s great to hear.”
© 2011 Scottish & Universal Newspapers Limited