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Tag Archives: English Youth Ballet

The Leigh Journal
February 24, 2016


Xander Bevan, 12, after winning a role in EYB's Swan Lake (Lancashire Telegraph) 2015[Atherton, England] – Atherton’s real life Billy Elliot is living his dream after winning a place in the professional production of Giselle. Twelve-year-old Xander Bevan will be dancing the role of Gentleman of the Hunt at the Preston Guild Hall and Charter Theatre in the English Youth Ballet production next Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5.

Xander has previously been part of large productions like Swan Lake last year and Coppelia in 2014.

He has danced from the age of six after signing up to do lessons himself. His dad Lee said: “I got an e-mail saying your little boy tried out and is great at ballet. He did karate and rugby, so I was shocked, but I asked him and he said he wanted to do it.

“So we said ‘go on then’ and he’s just amazing.”

Auditions for Giselle took place at the Preston theatre in November, with more than 200 dancers taking part. Xander was one of the lucky few to be selected.

Janet Lewis, director and founder of the English Youth Ballet, said: “EYB is all about providing extra performance experience to young dancers. “We saw a very pleasing standard at the auditions and it was lovely to see lots of enthusiasm.”

EYB has helped many of the UK’s best talents springboard into careers with some of the world’s top ballet companies, including the Royal Ballet Company and English National Ballet.

Xander Bevan 12, publicity photo shoot 2016

Lee said: “We’ve been told that Xander has exceptional talent for such a young boy, with many people saying he has perfect feet for ballet. He goes to school then straight to his six-hour rehearsals, and then is coming home and trying to master moves until midnight. He’s dedicated, hard working and is just larger than life. I never thought with having three boys that we’d have one of them doing ballet, but he just loves it. We are all so proud of him.”

The ballet will star principal international dancers Amy Drew, Adele Robbins, Monica Tapiador, Richard Read, Brenden Bratulic, Oliver Speers and Trevor Wood. All the soloist and corps de ballet roles in the production will be performed by 100 dancers, aged eight to 18, from the north west.

Copyright 2016 Newsquest (North West) Ltd.

Read more about Xander: Youngster will star alongside pros in Coppelia


By Will Burton
Bucks Free Press
October 13, 2015


Ethan Hall, 10, wins spot in EYB’s Nutcracker (Ben Garner) 2015[ Buckinghamshire, England] – A talented ten-year-old school boy from Princes Risborough will feature in a professional ballet performance of the Nutcracker next month. Ethan Hall auditioned for the show – which runs from 13 – 14th November at the Buxton Opera House, Derbyshire – after a successful performance of Swan Lake in Ayslebury back in Easter.

Ethan is a year six student at Gateway School and has been taking dance lesson at the Susan Diane School of Ballet, Aylesbury, twice a week since he was four years old.

“He was hesitant at first,” explains Tracey Boyd-Hall, Ethan’s mum. “But he grew so much in confidence during the Swan Lake performance and now this performance is an amazing thing for him to be involved in.”

The English Youth Ballet (EYB) held auditions for the ballet, which requires approximately 260 costumes, in June and attracting over 200 young hopefuls.

The story of the Nutcracker follows a young girl called Clara who embarks on an exciting and dangerous adventure a handsome prince who has been transformed from a nutcracker doll. They travel together through the Snow Forest to reach their destination – the glittering palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Kingdom of the Sweets.

As well as ballet, Ethan gets regularly gets involved with judo, swimming and squash. His mum revealed he wants to be a marine biologist, a lawyer or a computer-game coder when he grows up.

Copyright 2015 Newsquest Ltd.


Alicia Patnelli, 12, Rowan Lightwood, 10, Troy Tipple, 11,  and Bethany Raine, 11 have been chosen to dance in the EYB's  Giselle (Morley Observer) 2015


The Moreley Observer and Advertiser
June 01, 2015


[West Yorkshire, England] – Four talented Morley dancers will be taking to the stage in a professional peformance of Giselle. Troy Tipple, 11, Rowan Lightwood, 10, Bethany Raine, 11 and Alicia Patnelli, 12, are currently having an amazing time rehearsing with the English Youth Ballet at St George’s Hall Bradford for the June 5-6 performance.

Nearly 200 young hopeful dancers turned up to two auditions with Troy, Rowan, Alicia and Bethany all impressing youth ballet director, Janet Lewis MBE.

This is the second time Troy will be performing with the youth ballet and is looking forward to dancing again with Rowan, who have previously danced together.

Bethany, a pupil at Morley Victoria School has been dancing for six years at the Rachael Swann School of Dancing and renaissance Arts in Leeds. Proud mum Jill said: “Bethany plays piano, loves sport and is involved in all aspects of school life. Being in Giselle is a great experience, and Bethany is loving the rehearsals. It’s fantastic that English Youth Ballet give young dancers from all over the country the chance to learn from and dance with professional ballerina’s.”

Alicia, who attended Churwell Primary School, is now a pupil sat Morley Academy. Mum Nichole said: “Alicia has been attending Rachael Swann school of dancing since she was three and took part in her first show six months after she started. She currently studies ballet, tap, modern and drama. She has auditioned for the Royal Ballet twice but unfortunately was unsuccessful. She successfully auditioned for Renaissance Arts in 2014 and is now close to completing her first year.”

Nichole said Alicia has wanted to be a Prima Ballerina since around the age of six when her teacher, Miss Rachael, first suggested that she had the talent to follow that path. “She is very petite for her age and one thing that stops her being upset about it is the fact that it will help her become a Prima Ballerina. Being selected for Giselle has been a dream come true for Alicia. She sincerely hopes that this is the start of a long career and the first job she can put on her dance CV.”

Julianne Rice-Oxley, English Youth Ballet Mistress, is coaching the young dancers in rehearsals. She said: “The young dancers are treated like professional dancers during rehearsals. We work them hard but the results are fantastic.They learn what the life of a professional dancer is like. They are living their dream and they just love it.”

The story of Giselle is set in the Edwardian era on an English country estate and tells the story of young governess, Giselle, who falls in love with the aristocrat Albert who betrays her. She dies of a broken heart but her ghost chooses to protect Albert and other of the town’s men folk as ghosts of other young women seek their revenge.


© 2015 Johnston Publishing Ltd.


Related Article: Boys win roles with English Youth Ballet

Dorking Advertiser
August 21, 2014


Wilf Sheppard, 11,  is set to perform with the National Youth Ballet (Photo by Ashley Holmes Photography) 2014[Surrey, England] – A young ballet dancer from Dorking’s Ashcombe School is to perform in a production by the National Youth Ballet. Eleven-year-old Wilf Sheppard will perform two dances – the Dolls House Fantasia and Waking Mozart – as part of a showcase titled Beyond Ballet.

Wilf’s mother, Anthea, told the Advertiser: “We’re enormously proud of him. He’s very ambitious, he really wants to be a ballet dancer and always has done.”

This will be Wilf’s first time for the National Youth Ballet. He went through two phases of auditions before being asked to take on a main cast part.

Rehearsals have been intense but Mrs Sheppard said her son “takes it all in his stride” and isn’t fazed by the upcoming show at the end of this month.

The rising star from Buckland has been dancing since he was five years old and attends Surrey School of Ballet in Reigate and also Dance Shack in Leatherhead.

Beyond Ballet will be at The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks, on August 21, 22 and 23. There will also be a gala performance at the New Wimbledon Theatre on September 1.

For more details and the full programme, visit

Copyright 2014 Local World

Kieghley News
June 12, 2014



Joe Dearden, 14, English Youth Ballet (Keighley News) 2014[West Yorkshire, England] – Teenager Joe Dearden will tomorrow [June 13th] take to the stage in Stockport in a professional ballet. Joe is among members of the English Youth Ballet giving three performances of Coppelia at the town’s Plaza Theatre.

The 14-year-old Oakbank School student has spent the past 10 days in Stockport undergoing intensive rehearsals with fellow members. The youngsters, drawn from across the country, perform in the classical ballet with professional principal dancers.

Joe attends the Sara Packham Theatre School, based in Oxenhope, which regularly provides young dancers and actors for professional stage productions.

He was among 200 children and teenagers who auditioned in February for part with the English Youth Ballet. The ballet company aims to give talented young dancers an insight into what life is like as a professional dancer.

A complex rehearsal schedule involves simultaneous sessions in three separate studios, before the cast join together to show each other what they have learned each day.

Coppelia follows the escapades of the dreamy Franz after he comically falls in love with a beautiful life-like doll.


Copyright 2014 Newsquest. Ltd.


Xander Bevan (The Bolton News)

By Melanie Wallwork,
The Bolton News
June 4, 2014


[Bolton, England] – A budding ballet star is gearing up to perform alongside professional dancers in the love story Coppelia. Xander Bevan, aged 11, a pupil at Clevelands Preparatory School, in Chorley New Road, Bolton, was selected from more than 200 young hopefuls, by English Youth Ballet, at an audition in February.

He has been rehearsing with professional dancers and will appear in the show, at The Plaza in Stockport, for three performances on June 13 and 14.

Xander, who attends the Anna Christie School Of Dance, in Chorley New Road, had to overcome teasing from other youngsters when he first started but he was determined to follow his dream and is delighted to have landed the spot in Coppelia.

The young dancer, of Platt Lane, Atherton, said: “I started to do ballet when I was six because a ballet teacher came to my school and asked if I would like to join her school because there wasn’t many boys.

“My favourite dancer was Wayne Sleep. I would like to be a professional dancer when I am older.”

Dad Lee, who owns audio visual specialist company Leapfrog, based at Hunger Hill, said: “I’m extremely proud. At first, when I got a phone call when he was six saying he had shown an interest in joining a ballet school, I thought this will be a short term thing. “He’s really impressed me with how he’s stuck with it. He’s never looked back since.”

Ten-day intensive rehearsals for Coppelia started at Stockport Grammar School last month with international stars, including Australian principal ballerina Amy Drew who will play the lead role of Swanhildam.

She said: “The young dancers we are working with in Stockport have great energy and attack. Working in a professional environment gives the students a unique insight into life in a ballet company.

“Xander is so lucky. I wish there had been something like English Youth Ballet when I was training. I feel very privileged to be a principal with English Youth Ballet as I get to work with some of the UK’s most talented young dancers. I find them incredibly inspiring.”


Copyright 2014 Newsquest Ltd

Former ballet teacher is reunited with star pupil

By Andrew French
Oxford Mail
July 25, 2013

Ballet teacher, Sarah Doidge and James French (Photo by Denis Kennedy) 2013[Oxford, England] – Two years ago James French secured training with the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, London.

In September, the 11-year-old from Didcot will join the school full-time at White Lodge in Richmond, and will appear in The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House at Christmas. And earlier this week, James met up with his former ballet teacher Sarah Doidge, who spotted his talent when he was three.

James was encouraged to try ballet by his parents Jacqui Sporle and Paul French, landlords of the Broadways pub in Didcot.

Ms Sporle attributes her son’s success to the good start he got when he was a pupil at Our Lady’s Abingdon Junior School. It was there James received tuition from Mrs Doidge, and on earlier this week she was able to see the progress he has made when they met at the school in St John’s Road.

Ms Sporle, 53, from Didcot, said: “It was lovely for James to be able to see Mrs Doidge again. She was his ballet teacher from when he about three-and-half and he loved it and went on from there. “He was copying his sister Danielle, who is now 16 and she is at Ballet West, a school for ballet dancers in Scotland.

“Last year James got a place at the Young Dancers Academy in Shepherd’s Bush in London and he has just completed his first year of full-time ballet training.

“With the Royal Ballet he has appeared at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Prince of the Pagodas.

“In each year at the Royal Ballet School, there are only places for 12 boys and 12 girls in his year group, and more than 700 dancers auditioned twice for a place.

“I would love it if James gets the chance to become a ballet dancer full-time when he grows up, but I’m not pushing him into it – it’s what he wants as well.”

James added: “I remember when I was little I would do ballet with Mrs Doidge and she always made me laugh – it was lovely to see her again. I’m really looking forward to being in The Nutcracker.”

Mrs Doidge, from Abingdon, ran a ballet school for 30 years before she started her own business making jam about six years ago. Last year she agreed to supply top food store Fortnum & Mason with jars of plum conserve.

She said: “I taught James for about five years and I have been keeping an eye on his progress ever since. I think he has a very good chance of making it as a ballet dancer, provided he continues to work hard. The competition is tough, but physically he has all the attributes to make a good dancer.”

Copyright 2013 Newsquest

Related Articles:

Young dancers win roles at Royal Opera House

Nine-year-old dancer to perform at Covent Garden

Faversham ballet dancer lands Swan Lake role

By Claire McWethy
The Canterbury Times
July 30, 2013

Jake Inman,14,will dance in EYB's Swan Lake 2013[Kent, England] – Faversham’s answer to Billy Elliot has landed a role in a professional production of Swan Lake at the Marlowe Theatre.

Up-and-coming ballet star Jake Inman, 14, was selected in February after an audition where he was up against 200 young hopefuls. Now he is preparing for the performance of a lifetime, where he will be taking to the stage between August 23 – 24 with the English Youth Ballet (EYB). He will dance alongside EYB’s international principal artists and gain an insight into what life is like as a professional ballet dancer.

Jake who attends Canterbury Academy and is currently studying at the Dance Warehouse, said his dancing dreams began when he was just five years old. He said: “I started dancing very young. I used to get taken along to dancing with my sister and I really enjoyed looking at it so I started myself. I started tap dancing but when my parents suggested doing ballet as well I really took to it.

“I am looking forward to performing on the stage in Swan Lake and I am quite confident I can do it well.”

The young cast have begun rehearsing with the EYB’s dancers at The Canterbury Academy in an intensive ten-day schedule.

British principal ballerina, Julianne Rice Oxley said she was impressed by the talent in the young dancers.

She said: “They have great energy and attack. Working in a professional environment gives the students a unique insight into life in a ballet company. Jake is so lucky – I wish there had been something like EYB when I was training!

“I feel very privileged to be a principal with EYB as I get to work with some of the UK’s most talented young dancers. I find them incredibly inspiring!”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

Brothers are taking the world of ballet by storm

The Somerset Guardian
August 8, 2013

Brothers Elliot, 17, and Leo Horler, 11 (Photo by Kevin Bates) 2013

[Somerset, England] – Brothers Elliot and Leo Horler are dancing for joy following their individual successes in the world of ballet.

Both boys have been dancing since they were youngsters and Elliot, aged 17, is at the Hammond School, in Chester, and has just danced in a world premiere to mark the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten.

Plymouth Town was written when Britten was 17 and the ballet had never been performed until now when it was choreographed by Hammond senior classical teacher Jane Elliott. The performanceHYPERLINK  \l “” took place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Leo, a pupil at Writhlington School, has just returned from Cardiff where he had landed a major role with the English Youth Ballet in their production of Giselle. He had impressed the organisation when he took roles in their production of Sleeping Beauty in Weston-super-Mare earlier this year, and was invited to dance in Cardiff.

Leo, who trains at the Susan Hill School of Dance in Radstock, as did his brother before him, is determined to pursue a career in dance. He has been accepted on an associate programme at the Hammond School and his mum Carrie is hoping that he will succeed with a full funded place soon.

As well as training with Sue Hill, Leo also travels to Swindon where he studies with the town’s dance academy.

Janet Lewis, director of the English Youth Ballet, said Leo was a talented boy. She said: “Leo improved his ballet techniques daily during our rehearsal period and gained enormous confidence in his performance. His dramatic ability stood out in the part he played. He is a talented boy, perhaps another Billy Elliott of the future.”

Elliot is in the sixth form at Hammond and is enjoying concentrating on his musical theatre studies. He said: “It’s nice to be with people of similar interest. I am surrounded by people who are talented and enjoy doing the same things as me.”

Mrs Horler said she is proud of her sons and the success they enjoy. She said: “They both love to dance and enjoy it. We hope that Leo might get his chance at somewhere like the Hammond but that will require sponsorship.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

By Leanne Clarke
The Moreley Observer & Advertiser
June 1, 2013

Rowan Lightfoot and Troy Tipple are taking to the stage with the English Youth Ballet 2013

[West Yorkshire, England] – The dreams of two ballet boys have come true after they beat 160 other hopefuls to be chosen to appear in a opera house production. Rowan Lightfoot and Troy Tipple have both been selected to appear in a production of ballet Coppelia at the Grand Opera House in York.

Eight-year-old Rowan, from Tingley, who is a member of the Kay Academy of Dance, and nine-year-old Troy, from Morley, who dances at the Deborah Coultish School of Dance and goes to Morley Victoria Primary, will appear in three performances from June 7 with the English Youth Ballet (EYB) playing the roles of Betrothal Dancers.

Rowan, a pupil at Westerton Primary School, said: “The training is hard work but lots of fun. It’s been good to meet other boy dancers as there aren’t many in my ballet school and I’m enjoying seeing everything coming together and am looking forward to putting on my toy soldier costume for the final performances.”

Rowan’s mum, Lauren, said: “We were really excited when his dance teacher suggested he go along to an audition and were extremely proud when he was offered a role as there were over 100 children in his age group auditioning for parts.

“Training is very intense – 12 six hour blocks over weekends and then three performances in June .”

Equally excited Troy said: “I was very hopeful at the audition but the other dancers were awesome, I couldn’t believe it when I got chosen it was fantastic.  I am having the most brilliant time. Richard Reed teaches us some of the dances. I would love to dance as well as him some day.”

Troy’s mum Jane said: “We are so very proud of him , he has only been taking ballet lessons for 18 months but really enjoys them, We cant wait to see the performance, we are all looking forward to it so much, Troy is amazing.”

© 2013 Johnston Publishing Ltd

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