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By Laura Jones
The Oxford Mail
November 18, 2011

Ballet boys James French and Ethan Barrett have swapped their Oxfordshire classrooms for the Royal Opera House stage.  The pair, who are good friends and take dance lessons together in Witney, have both won roles in the Royal Ballet Company’s glittering production of The Sleeping Beauty.

For nine-year-old Our Lady’s of Abingdon pupil James it’s a familiar setting. He graced the Covent Garden stage earlier this year as a hedgehog in a new production of Alice in Wonderland.

But for Ethan, his classmate at Witney’s Jill Stew School of Dance, it’s the first time. The 10-year-old Freeland Primary School pupil has been dancing since he was three, following in the dainty footsteps of his ballet teacher mum Sarah, but the role of Queen’s page boy will be his first with a professional company.

Speaking of his first-night nerves, Ethan said: “When I was on the way to the studio I wasn’t scared, but when I was about to go on stage I did get nervous. “But it went fine – no mistakes. I was quite overwhelmed because of course it’s my first ballet with the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet School. I’m really excited about doing it.”

Like Ethan, ballet runs in James’s family – his 15-year-old sister Danielle is a pre-senior at the Central School of Ballet in London and will audition this year to study full-time there.

The nine-year-old whose mum Jacqui and dad Paul run Broadways pub, in Didcot, admitted: “I did get nervous in Alice because I thought if I did this one wrong I wouldn’t be in another ballet.

“Also all those people watching me made me nervous – but you can’t really see them with the lights on you. Now I am not as nervous because I have done it all before and I loved it. I just get butterflies on the first night.”

The two boys say Australian dancer Steven McRae is their ballet hero and being backstage at the Royal Opera House has given them a chance to meet some of their other dance idols.

Both boys perform in the production of The Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House in London, which runs until December 21.

© Copyright 2011 Newsquest Media Group

Related Article: Nine-year-old dancer to perform at Covent Garden

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