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By Sophie Jane Evans
Hull Daily Mail
May 29, 2013

Archie Williamson-Hood, 13, to star in EYB's Coppelia 2013[Yorkshire, England] – Eleven years ago, Archie Williamson-Hood was posing on his mum’s sofa with a cheeky grin and a crop of sandy hair. He had just beaten hundreds of youngsters to be crowned the first ever winner of the Mail’s Baby and Toddler of the Year competition.

Now aged 13, he has claimed another coup after being cast in a prestigious ballet show. Archie, of Elloughton, is set to perform in the English Youth Ballet’s Coppelia production next week.

His mother Victoria Hood said she was “extremely proud” of his success.

She said: “Archie is a very talented, natural dancer. He has been dancing since he was three years old and absolutely loves it. He was so excited when he got through the auditions for the English Youth Ballet. He wants to be a professional ballet dancer when he’s older, so it really was a dream come true for him.”

Archie, a student at South Hunsley School in North Ferriby, will join elite ballet dancers on-stage at the Grand Opera House in York. He will play a series of roles in Leo Delibes’ ballet, which follows the escapades of a village boy, Franz, who falls in love with Coppelia, a beautiful, life-like doll.

Victoria, 35, said: “Archie has been training with the cast for six hours, three days a week, to make sure every step is perfect. He has met some lovely people and some really inspirational dancers. The rehearsals have been intense, but I’m sure they will be worth it.”

Her son’s on-stage talents were already shining through when he was crowned the Mail’s Toddler of the Year in 2002.

Victoria, a former dancer and choreographer, said: “From a very young age, Archie’s movement was outstanding. He was really confident and loved being the centre of attention. I think that’s how he won the competition – he was a bubbly, likeable toddler who was always dancing and singing.”

More than a decade later, Archie’s passion sees him train six days a week, including two days at the prestigious Northern Ballet Academy in Leeds. As well as ballet, he trains in tap, modern and musical theatre and contemporary dance at the RS Dance school in Brough.

He also takes part in weekly freestyle gymnastics classes at Adelaide Primary School in west Hull.

Victoria, who is now a professional cyclist, said: “He’s always training in some way or another, but he absolutely loves it. He never moans and sees it as an opportunity to get really good at something that makes him feel so free and happy.

“Some people have a dig at him for being a male ballet dancer, but he just shrugs it off. His work ethic is truly amazing.”

And Archie isn’t just a dab hand at dancing.

Victoria said: “He has a beautiful voice and is a great actor too. He played Oliver in a school play last year and pulled it off brilliantly.”

Archie, who dreams of being a professional ballet dancer, said he was “thrilled” to be performing with the English Youth Ballet.

He said: “I started dancing because my mum used to do it and I thought it was really good. I am enjoying rehearsing with the English Youth Ballet and have met a lot of new people.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

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