April 4, 2015
A Blackpool [England] schoolboy who first danced just three years ago has won a place at one of the country’s top ballet schools. George Jennings will move to London in September to attend the Royal Ballet’s White Lodge School – where famous ex-students include Darcey Bussell and Wayne Sleep.
The 11-year-old was picked out three years ago when he took part in Royal Ballet’s primarySTEPS workshops at Bispham Endowed Primary School, where it was suggested he audition for the Royal Ballet’s Junior Associates training scheme in Manchester – after teachers recognised the potential in his physique.
With lessons at Sylvia Conway Dance Academy, in Anchorsholme, George began to hone some classical ballet technique too and was able to join the associates two years later. ‘Immensely proud’ mum Jaki said: “Sylvia is really picky about technique, she really installs good technique in her pupils and they said his was strong. But he absolutely loves it, he lives to dance, which is quite strange as a mum and not what you expect to be the case when you have boys.”
This time last year George was appearing on stage in Matthew Bourne’s Lord Of The Flies at The Lowry in Salford. But it’s Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta who’s his main inspiration. “I feel very excited about going to White Lodge,” George said. “It’s something I really want to do, and I would like to be Carlos Acosta – he is, like, wow. I think I’ll miss my family for a couple of days but I’ll get on with it and enjoy myself while I’m there.”
And he said seeing Acosta, and other dance stars, in ballets screened at cinemas has helped inspire him to work hard to achieve his dreams. “It makes me think ‘I hope I can do that one day’,” he added.
The tough regime at White Lodge sees pupils combine regular school work with classical ballet classes, as well as character, contemporary, Irish, Morris and Scottish dancing, plus gymnastics.
George has been assessed by physiotherapists from White Lodge since he started associates classes, and his development will be monitored throughout his time at the school.
Jaki added: “They only offer 12 places, so we never imagined it would be George considering he’s only been dancing since he was eight. Sylvia’s really taken him in, and semi-adopted him – he has three lessons a week with her and her son is his best friend. She deserves so much credit.
“Since doing Lord Of The Flies, George has realised it’s OK to be a dancer because he saw how many different kinds of people were involved. He’s always been quite confident but even more so since taking up ballet, especially after Lord Of The Flies, and he has a very healthy attitude towards his ballet.”
© 2015 Johnston Publishing Ltd