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The Western Morning News
March 22, 2012
[Edited]

A Cornish schoolboy is one of just 12 in the country to win a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London. Dreams of a professional dancing career are now one step closer for 11-year-old Stuart Strongman, who has been studying ballet for five years.

Stuart, from St Austell, auditioned early this year – little expecting that he would be offered a place at White Lodge, the Royal Ballet boarding school based in Richmond Park. “I have always liked dancing. But when I found out I had been offered a place I was amazed. I did not really think I would get through,” he said.

News of the place is the result of years of hard work for Stuart, who is also a keen gymnast. He spends every Saturday morning training with the Royal Ballet South West junior associates in Totnes. After the three-hour class, he jumps in the car with his mum Jennie, who drives him back to St Austell to rehearse with Cornwall’s own classical dance company– Duchy Ballet.

For Jennie the reality has yet to sink in. “Obviously we are very proud – but I still cannot believe it,” she said. “I cannot imagine opening his bedroom door in September and not seeing him there.”

Stuart admits the last few months have been particularly busy as members of Duchy Ballet have been rehearsing for the famous classical ballet Giselle and Jubilation – a dance performance set in the 1950s which has been especially choreographed to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Stuart, who has performed with Duchy Ballet for four years, has parts in both productions. Indeed, months of hard work and preparation have gone into the two-part show, which is due to be performed at the Hall for Cornwall from March 22 to 24.

Last night Kay Jones, artistic director of Duchy Ballet, said she was thrilled at Stuart’s success. She has seen him develop his talent over the years both in Duchy and as a pupil at her own ballet academy, Capitol School of Dance. “I am absolutely delighted for Stuart,” she said. “It is a very exciting time for him. It is lovely to see home-grown talent doing so well.”

Dance companies like Duchy Ballet give young dancers in Cornwall the experience of performing in a professional setting, she added. Around 90 children, from St Just to Callington, are members of the company, which holds auditions every year.

Copyright © 2012 Northcliffe Media Limited.

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