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Tag Archives: London Children’s Ballet

Felix Brook, 10, has landed a role in LCB's Little Laord Fauntleroy (Peterborough Telegraph) 2016

 

Peterborough Telegraph
April 18, 2016

 

Felix Brook (10) of Ermine Crescent, Stilton, has followed in the footsteps of the fictional ballet star by defying gender stereotypes to land a part in Little Lord Fauntleroy. Felix was chosen as one of 60 dancers from around 600 who auditioned for the performance despite only taking up ballet in late 2014.

The Stilton Church of England Primary School pupil was inspired to take up dancing simply by turning off the light with his feet, and after giving ballet a go he soon became hooked by it.

Felix’s mum Sadie said: “He’s always prancing around. We tried lots of things like football and hockey with the school but he did not really enjoy it. I can’t remember who suggested it but we said try gymnastics or ballet. He said he can’t do ballet because he’s a boy, but he tried it and his teacher said he has real talent. She has taken him under her wing.”

Felix goes four times a week to classes at Tu Danse in Newark Road, Peterborough, where he has been welcomed with open arms and encouragement.

Sadie said: “They’ve been brilliant. Not many boys dance with them.

Felix Brook, 10, only start ballet lesson in 2014 (Peterrborough Telegraph) 2016“It’s given him a focus. In the last year he’s knuckled down at school a bit more. He did get a lot of stick at the beginning from the other boys but he’s really good at it, and he’s feisty.

“We always said we will encourage him and push him while he enjoys it. He says he’s going to dance for ever. I’m massively proud – it makes all the travel worth it.”

And it appears that Felix’s love of dance is not just confined to a ballet class. Sadie added: “He’s dancing down the aisle of Tesco, on the platform at the train station – he just does not stop, it’s brilliant. He’s just our little Billy Elliot. He’s read the book and watched the film a hundred times. He loves it.”

Felix will be on stage at the Peacock Theatre from April 21-24 as he performs for the London Children’s Ballet.

The youngster is very excited to perform live again and, not just content with four days in the West End, he is already looking ahead to a career in ballet.

Felix is booked in for a week at the Royal Ballet School this summer and will soon be applying for a full-time ballet secondary school.

And at the same time, he will continue to show people that ballet is something for both boys and girls.

He said: “Some will be nice about it and some people take the mick.

“At first I cared and got a little bit upset but now I’m not bothered.

“I normally have a show at the dance studio and a couple of my friends came and they really liked it.”

 

© 2016 Johnston Publishing Ltd

 

 

Amari Webb-Martin, 12, has been dancing since he was three (Newham Recorder) 2016

 

By Kat Hopps
Newham Recorder
April 12, 2016

 

[London, England] – Amari Webb-Martin, of Chichester Close, successfully auditioned for a role in Little Lord Fauntleroy, which runs for four nights at Peacock Theatre from Thursday, April 21.

The Kingsford Community School pupil, who has been dancing since he was about three, was one of 60 children out of 600 in total to get a part.

He said: “I’m having the best time at London Children’s Ballet and I am looking forward to the opening night. Being a part of this ballet production is fantastic and I think all boys should be able to pirouette, leap and glissade!”

The young twinkle-toed performer won several ensemble parts in the production including a hot dog seller, Earl’s Court dancer and church goer.

Prior to winning the role, he performed in theatre production Treasure at Finsborough Theatre, danced at the O2 and even sang in a teen pop band that appeared on Britian’s Got Talent

Amari is also accomplished in tap, modern, contemporary and acro dance.

Mum Kelley Webb-Martin said she was very proud of her son’s “determination, dedication and humility”, especially as he has often had to accept rejection for roles along the way.

She said: “He works very hard and he is one of these humble people who does his best.”

The Kerry Jane Academy Of Dance student officially started dance lessons aged three but first learnt his moves on the dance floor at just 18 months old, when he would watch his sister, Zakira Webb-Martin, 14, perform in dance classes at the same school in East Ham.

Kelley said: “I had to run to the shop and I left him with the dance people and he sat up and watched all the people. He then started to walk and he just started to go on to the dance school.”

The mum-of-two added that Amari “still loves it” and is undeterred by any social pressures that he may face along the way.

She said: “You do not see many boys who do step and modern dance so it is really brave of him to something really classical. Boys doing ballet isn’t as popular as other dances but I’m pleased that he continues to pursue and enjoy it.”

 

© 2014 Archant Community Media Ltd

 

 

 

Fred Dixon will play the king in LCB's Snow White (Surrey Comet) 2015

By Priscila Barrera
The Surrey Comet
April 21, 2015

 

[Surrey, England] – An aspiring young dancer has been cast for a ballet production of Snow White that will run in London’s West End at the end of April. Fred Dixon, 14, who attends Heathside School in Weybridge, will dance the role of the king, Snow White’s father.

Sarah Dixon, Fred’s mother, said: “I am extremely proud of Fred and I am looking forward to seeing him in the show.”

Snow White is a London Children’s Ballet production, a performance company founded in 1994 that gives children the opportunity to perform as part of a professional ballet production free of charge. Only 56 children aged nine to 16 will dance at the Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre from April 23 to 26.

Mrs Dixon said: “It has always been his ambition to perform in the West End and it will be a dream come true.”

Fred started dancing when he was seven and was inspired by TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

Sharon Rault, his teacher at the Susan Roberts Academy of Performing Arts, put him forward for the auditions for Snow White back in November.

The ballet will be choreographed by Jenna Lee, who danced until recently as a soloist with English National Ballet.

For more information about the ballet, visit londonchildrensballet.com.

 

Copyright 2015 Newsquest Ltd.

 

Ballet dancers Hugh O'Sullivan (left) and Lewis Heath (Paul Jacobs)

 

The News
April 20, 2015

 

[Portsmouth, England] – A talented trio are to perform in a production of Snow White in the West End this month [April].

Hugh O’Sullivan, Lewis Heath and Tilly-May Padley are currently rehearsing as a part of the London Children’s Ballet group. The cast of Snow White aged 9-16, represents 56 of the best ballet talent from across the UK who will perform at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre, London.

Lewis who trains at the Southsea School of Dance has been cast in three roles including a kings huntsman.

14-year-old Lewis from Hilsea said: ‘It is my first time doing anything like this so I am over the moon that I got in. I am a little bit nervous as all of the nights are sold out but it will be breath taking to do.’

Lewis suffers from Tourette’s syndrome and uses ballet to battle his tics. He said: ‘I find it quite hard to cope but when I start dancing something strange happens and it helps me manage my tics really well.’

Dancing alongside him will be another Southsea pupil, Hugh O’Sullivan from Old Portsmouth. The 12-year-old performed in last year’s production of Nanny McPhee but it wasn’t easy for him to be cast in Snow White.

Hugh will be playing the part of a king’s huntsmen and a dancing party entertainer. He said: ‘I decided to audition again as it was really, really fun last year. I was quite nervous when I auditioned before but as I know what I’m doing a bit more I think I will be fine.’

Playing Happy the dwarf is the production is Tilly-May Padley from Drayton. The 11-year-old recently performed at The Kings Theatre’s staging of Sleeping Beauty. According to directors she was the ideal choice to play Happy since her first audition.

Zoe Vickerman said: ‘She is incredible and has been since her first audition. ‘She is so smiley that we knew she would be perfect for this part.’

To get their roles the trio had to compete against 600 young hopefuls all wanting their moment in the limelight.

 

© 2015 Johnston Publishing Ltd.

 

London Children's Ballet's Nanny McPhee (photo by Johan Persson) 2014-01

 

By Sally Williams
The Telegraph
April 19, 2014

 

On a cold day in October Isabella Koos, 14, was one of 500 children assembled in a studio in west London to audition for the London Children’s Ballet’s latest production, Nanny McPhee – The Ballet. Although it is called the London Children’s Ballet, children from anywhere in the country may audition. Isabella lives in Totnes, Devon. She came to ballet when she was six, and it became her life. She danced whenever she could: five times a week by the age of nine. Her performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in her school’s end-of-year show was remarkable. ‘She led the little group, was totally focused, remembered all her steps, looked straight out at the audience,’ her mother, Gabi, a nurse, remembers.

But the top ranks of classical ballet require a certain body type. ‘Small head, long neck, narrow hips, long arms, legs proportionally longer than your body,’ Gabi runs through the criteria. There is also the matter of ‘line’, the arrangement of the head, arms, body, legs and feet in a pose or movement. Good line is critical. ‘You accept it,’ Gabi says. ‘If you want to be a runway model, you have to be 6ft tall. It’s no good if you’re 5ft 6. It’s no good wishing you were 6ft, you’re not.’ But Isabella’s dream was to dance for a large audience. She worked hard, but there was no opportunity. Until they came upon London Children’s Ballet.

London Children’s Ballet was founded as a charity in 1994 by Lucille Briance, 61 (she remains artistic director), the mother of a ballet-mad daughter who desperately wanted to be a ballerina but did not have the ‘right’ feet or knees. ‘Her knees hurt now and they hurt then,’ Briance says of Zoe, then 10. ‘She wouldn’t have had the slightest chance of getting into the Royal Ballet School.’ Briance looked for an outlet for Zoe’s passion that would allow her to dance more seriously but carry on at school. There was no such place, so Briance created it. She wrote a ballet (adapted from Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince), hired a choreographer, found a studio and advertised auditions for a new ballet to be performed entirely by children.

LCB is now in its 20th year and is celebrating with ballet based on Emma Thompson’s Nanny McPhee films, about a stern governess who uses magic to restore order to a household with seven children. Thompson, who also plays Nanny McPhee in the films, wrote the scripts based on Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda books.

It isn’t hard to see why LCB is such a success. Every year it mounts a ballet at a West End theatre using talented nine- to 16-year-olds from dance schools across the country. It does not discriminate on grounds of height, shape or income (it costs the company £3,600 for each child to do the ballet; families pay £45). Children are judged solely on their ability. ‘People who select for vocational training schools are absolutely right: if you are going to train for the long haul, you need a body that is not going to break down,’ Briance says. ‘But I come to it as a parent, and if you have a child who is passionate and willing to work hard, you have to offer them the opportunity to go as far as you can.’

Each production, created from scratch, has an original score (‘There’s an orchestra! Not music coming out of a speaker!’ one child enthused), rich sets, costumes and top choreography. Briance adds to the pressure by writing the ballets herself because ‘we need to do something that hasn’t been done before and done better’. She has written 17 so far, all adapted from classic works of literature such as The Canterville Ghost, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Nanny McPhee is her first to be based on a contemporary film.

The idea is not talent-spotting, though LCB has changed lives. Anna Rose O’Sullivan, who played the lead role in A Little Princess in 2004, for example, was heading for a future in musical theatre until LCB highlighted her rare ballet talent. She is now an artist with the Royal Ballet. But the hope is to teach children the transferable skills of discipline, patience and teamwork.

‘LCB demonstrates year after year that even a modest amount of talent, when properly directed and imaginatively deployed, can produce quality dance theatre,’ Louise Levene, the Sunday Telegraph’s dance critic, says. ‘The performers change every year, but that potent combination of amateur enthusiasm and professional production values guarantees an enjoyable show. The consistency has been astonishing.’

The London Children’s Ballet calendar starts in October, with the first auditions (there are three rounds in all). Rehearsals are every Sunday from January until the performance, in April (with two intensive weeks over the Easter holiday).

Today is November 17, the final round of auditions. One hundred hopefuls are assembled at Dance Attic, a rehearsal studio in west London, to compete for 62 places. The children have been told to wait in a ‘holding room’, a small studio that is now a mess of ballet bags, clothes and lunch boxes. The mood is tense. Some dancers stretch their legs at the barre. Some stand still, hands on hips. Others compulsively adjust their leotards. There are Fattypuffs and Thinifers, leotards in pink, sky blue and white, and hair is parted dead centre and pinned at the back – the importance of ballet buns having been drummed in by teachers with names such as ‘Miss Heidi’ and ‘Miss Nisa’ at dance schools back home.

Some come from ordinary-person ballet lessons, and others are crème de la crème Royal Ballet School junior and senior associates who dance in special classes on Saturdays. But being a junior associate will not necessarily make you a member of LCB. Far from it. ‘It’s not necessarily about technique,’ Briance points out. ‘It’s about children who can twinkle.’

Cameron Nolan (front), 10, and Ruby Spicer (far left), nine, chat with others during a break (Kitty Gale)Cameron Nolan, 10, a sweet-faced boy with red hair, is here because, for some reason, when he was seven he started walking on his tiptoes. ‘Sometimes I’d do it to stretch, sometimes to make myself feel a bit taller. I’d do it naturally,’ he says. ‘Friends would joke that I should do ballet, and I thought, “Maybe I should.” ’ He was drawn in by the Billy Elliot effect. He now goes to lessons near his home in Banstead, Surrey, where his mother is an estate agent and his father a rugby coach, and still plays rugby every Sunday. ‘Ballet has helped my rugby,’ he says. ‘It’s improved my balance.’ He uses chaîné turns – fast turns along a diagonal line – to dodge tackles.

Ruby Spicer, from Sidcup, has cherubically curly hair and at nine is the youngest at today’s auditions. She suffers from chronic asthma and severe allergies, and her consultant suggested dance as a way to build stamina and confidence. ‘She was in and out of hospital so many times she missed a lot of school,’ says Ruby’s mother, who works in social services; her father is a psychotherapist. Ruby started ballet at the age of three and does three classes a week. Her favourite position is the splits.

Mukeni Nel, 16, had a dramatic start in life. As a newborn he was abandoned in a village just outside Nairobi, Kenya, and he was abandoned again in the hospital he was taken to after being found. ‘They left me to die,’ he says. An untreated eye infection has left him blind in one eye. At seven months old he was taken to an orphanage, from where he was adopted by his British father and Kenyan mother. ‘My mum couldn’t have children and she wanted to adopt a girl, and of course I wouldn’t have been adopted by anyone because I’m not the perfect child. But my dad said, “If you’re going to adopt anyone, you have to adopt this one” – looking at me – “because you can really make a difference to his life.”’ His name means ‘forever happy’ in his mother’s native language.

Mukeni Nel (centre left) and co-stars rehears as others watch (Kitty Gale)He now lives in Winchester and started ballet aged five because he was friends with the girls and it was what they did. Dancing is not affected by his impaired sight, unlike throwing and catching in PE. ‘I have the worst hand-eye coordination ever.’ He now wants to make ballet his career. ‘When I dance I just feel more free and happy. I go to that special place, somewhere light and fun,’ he says. ‘I have really long legs and long arms. I just need to gain some strength.’

The auditions are held in a large room with a pianist and a mirrored wall. The judging panel comprises Briance; Fiona Chadwick, a former principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet who is clever at spotting technique; Erico Montes, 28, the choreo-grapher, and Gemma Pitchley-Gale, 26, the LCB ballet mistress – both dancers at the Royal Ballet. They sit at a table with sheets of paper and put ticks or crosses under two headings: charm and choreography. Sandwiches, fruit and fondant fancies have been placed nearby for their lunch.

The children are led in 10 at a time and form a line in front of the judges. Niccy Tranah warms them up and says things such as ‘Big Christmas lights. Put them on!’ to get them to smile.

Some get crosses. ‘Weight back all the time,’ ‘Jumping on straight legs,’ ‘So unmusical it was horrendous.’ Mukeni gets ticks, as do Cameron (‘So boyish!’ the judges say), Isabella (‘Adorable’) and Ruby (‘Quick learner, great head on the turns’).

When the letter arrived, ‘I jumped up and down and phoned my husband at work – “She’s in, she’s in!” ’ Ruby’s mother later tells me. They celebrated with dinner at Café Rouge. ‘I couldn’t open it quickly enough,’ says Annabelle Adey, 14, from Epsom, Surrey, who plays Nanny McPhee and is an LCB veteran, having appeared in Snow White and A Little Princess. ‘And there it was: “Congratulations! We are delighted to offer you a place.” ’ Her mother and her friend Natasha started crying, she says, ‘and I screamed because I was so happy!’

Lucille Briance is tall and authoritative, and speaks with a hint of an American accent. She was born in New York, where her father was a stockbroker and her mother devoted herself to good causes: launching libraries, scholarship programmes. ‘My mother is very big on, “To whom much is given, much is expected,” ’ she says. After graduating from Smith College, Massachusetts, where she read political science, she worked in publishing in New York. She moved to London in 1980, after marrying Richard Briance, who is the head of a merchant bank (and son of Prunella Briance, the founder of the National Childbirth Trust). After a spell at Vogue as managing editor and then merchandising editor, Briance gave up work to be a stay-at-home mother. She has four children: Zoe, 31, is the executive director of LCB; Henry, 29, works in private equity in New York; Clemmie, 26, is a social worker; and Freddie, 24, works in retail.

‘I certainly didn’t expect to be running this,’ Briance says. ‘I thought I’d have an idea and hand it on in a month to the ballet world.’ In fact she devotes 11 months a year to LCB (August is spent with her 94-year-old mother in Nantucket). She searches for stories to adapt (she met Emma Thompson after the actress came to a show), fires off letters, meets agents, who recommend costume and set designers, networks supporters and organises fundraising events (for example, dinner with Emma Thompson and 250 friends at Bafta), driven by a belief in the transformative effect of hard work and ‘children from all backgrounds feeling stretched and important’.

She also takes great pleasure in ballet – ‘We do actually go’ – and rails against those who say it is too highbrow. Various producers have tried and failed to get LCB on television over the years. ‘Basically they [commissioning editors] say, “No, it’s an elitist thing, no one is interested in ballet!” ’ she cries. ‘It’s so ignorant!’

One of the things she is determined to protect is that the cost of LCB to parents is so minimal. ‘Seventy-eight per cent of our parents said they would not be able to participate if it wasn’t,’ she says. But keeping it that way is getting harder. ‘About 70 per cent of my work is fundraising, and in my opinion it’s a waste of time. If the government would give us an endowment we could slash our costs.’

It is now March and back at Dance Attic Isabella is learning that LCB’s professionalism requires sacrifices. She has two parts: as Aunt Adelaide and in the corps de ballet playing magic dust – an invention for the ballet. It is her ninth Sunday of rehearsals and her routine is this: alarm at 4.30am, pull on clothes and reach for ballet bag, which is already packed. Once she is bundled in a coat, her mother drives her along country roads and they park at a Morrisons. The coach from Totnes to London leaves at 5.05. Isabella sleeps on the coach, or does her homework. Once they get to London, the ritual is to run through her steps in her head as she walks down Fulham Broadway towards the studio. ‘She’ll be talking, naming her steps, and her arms will be twitching as we get closer,’ her mother says. While Isabella is rehearsing, her mother spends time with friends or goes shopping. If Isabella finishes early, they can make the 4.30pm coach back to Devon. But normally it is the 7.30. ‘So we get home after midnight,’ her mother explains.

‘The other day we were on the coach,’ she continues, ‘and it felt like such a long journey home and I was feeling a bit fed up, but I didn’t say anything. Then Isabella turned to me and said, “Mum, I’m so glad we’re doing this.” ’

To support LCB’s 20th-anniversary appeal, text LCBD20 £3 to 70070. To pre-order a DVD of Nanny McPhee – The Ballet, call 020-8969 1555

 

© Copyright 2014 Telegraph Media Group Limited

 

Related Article: A peek inside the London Children’s Ballet
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LCB's Nanny McPhee (Louise Haywood Schiefer, The London Magazine) 2014

 

By Emine Saner
The London Magazine
April 14, 2013

 

[London, England] – It’s hard to tell who’s more nervous: the children in the rehearsal room, or the parents, waiting in the café. It’s a Sunday afternoon at Dance Attic Studios in Fulham, and as the sky darkens outside and traffic rumbles past, auditions are being held for an ambitious new show.

The London Children’s Ballet (LCB) has been giving children the chance to experience a professional production, from auditions to West End performance, since 1994. This year, they’re staging an adaptation of Nanny McPhee, the story of seven mischievous children who have driven away every nanny they’ve ever had (Emma Thompson, who wrote the film’s screenplay, has given it her blessing).

Of more than 500 children who’ll audition, 50 to 60 will be chosen, aged between nine and 14. But this is no watered-down version that makes allowances for its young cast. They’ll have to learn and perfect complicated steps. If they get through, the next five months will be taken up with weekend rehearsals, plus a two-week intensive burst during the Easter holidays.

In the main audition space the judges – the LCB’s founder Lucille Briance, Fiona Chadwick, a former principal at the Royal Ballet, and Erico Montes, the choreographer – sit at a table, notepads in front of them. Tim Hammond, the composer, mans the grand piano in the corner. A group of 15 girls run in, dressed in pale pink tights and leotards, their hair scooped up into neat buns, numbers pinned to their fronts. For the next hour, they practice their routines, swooping across the floor. The ballet mistress encourages them: “Show a love of dance, girls! You’ve got the technique but I’m concerned about the faces. Show that you love to be here.”

Outside, parents line up to collect their daughters. Last year, talented young dancer Alyssa, 11, didn’t make the cast of LCB’s The Secret Garden, though she hasn’t been put off. “She’s been nervous, but excited as well,” says her mother Anabel. “She really wants to do it , so it’s fingers and toes crossed.”

After an hour, the girls rush out again, looking relieved. Lily O’Regan, 11, from East Sussex, is sitting on a step outside the studio. How did she feel it went? “OK, I think,” she says. “I felt my cheeks going red, but I think it went well.” Last year, she made the cut for The Secret Garden: “This time I’m a lot more excited because I know what it’s like, and it’s amazing.”

Erico Montes directs dancers rehearsing LCB’s Nanny McPhee (Louise Haywood Schiefer, The London Magazine) 2014

Next, it’s the boys’ turn. Luca Ross has come from Surrey to audition. His mother is a dancer, he says, and he started doing ballet when he was seven. He gave it up for a while when other boys at school teased him, but has now started again. He’s made friends with Hugh O’Sullivan, who has come for the day from Portsmouth. Hugh attends ballet classes on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and is about to attend an audition for the Royal Ballet School. What does he like about ballet?“I like that it makes you stronger.”

“And it takes up your energy,” adds Luca.

Are they nervous? Both nod. How would they feel if they got through? “Really happy,” says Hugh, “but it’s just to have fun, really.”

In the main room Fiona Chadwick is going through her notes. “We’re finding some lovely dancers,” she says. “It’s usually obvious who the very strong ones are, and the weaker ones, but it’s the middle ones that cause the problems.” It’s about giving them a fair chance, she adds. Their dancing might be affected by nerves, and if they’ve been in a previous LCB production, they’ll look more confident than children who’ve never experienced anything like this.

What are the judges looking for? “Certainly technical ability – that they can do certain ballet steps. Then you’re looking for personality, and how quickly they can pick things up.” The pianist begins to play as the boys file in. Erico Montes, a 28-year-old First Artist with The Royal Ballet, who comes from Brazil, teaches the routine. It looks complicated. One boy is quietly practising by himself. For another, the pressure gets too much and he says he feels sick. He’s promptly sat down with a glass of water.

Three months later, we’re back in the same room to watch rehearsals. Hugh got through. “It was really exciting when I found out,” he says. “I phoned everybody I knew.” How have the rehearsals been? “Really fun. It’s pretty hard, remembering it, but we write it down afterwards.”

Today, they’re rehearsing a scene where the unruly children fight with their house staff in the kitchen. The first run through is a technically complex standoff between the two groups. After a while, the excitement proves overwhelming – the boys are told off for talking and fidgeting. “I know this is exciting but if we want it to look good, we have to focus,” says Montes, kindly but firmly. Everyone scuttles into position.

The boys learn a ‘sword fight’ – in the show they’ll use kitchen utensils – then run through it all from the beginning. “That wasn’t bad,” says Montes, smiling. It takes two hours to practise a routine that lasts 45 seconds. Montes gathers the children around him. “It’s looking good. But we need to be calm, focused.” Next will come the costume fitting, and two dress rehearsals. The show opens in April.

Boys at rehearsal of LCB's Nanny McPhee (Louise Haywood Schiefer, The London Magazine) 2014

The day’s efforts over, there’s a flurry of activity as bags and coats are collected. Montes stands in the corridor, looking tired but happy. For him, the challenge is putting together choreography that will stretch the children, without piling on the pressure or putting them at risk of injury. “We know the impact that this will have and how much they will have learnt by the end, and how close they become to each other,” he says. “There’s more to it than just putting on a ballet.”

Nanny McPhee is at the Peacock Theatre, WC2, from 24-27 April, including matinees. For tickets, visit londonchildrensballet.com

By Alexander Robertson
Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
April 16, 2014

Charlie Taylor, 12, hopes to make a career as a dancer (Moorhouse Photo Studios) 2014[Surrey, England] – Aspiring young ballet dancer Charlie Taylor has never had a problem wowing tutors, judges and audiences when it comes to doing what he loves. But now the 12-year-old from Capel believes he can finally win over his toughest critics in the playground after being accepted onto the cast of a new show at the world famous Sadler’s Wells theatre in London.

The youngster, an associate at the Royal Ballet School for four years, has been selected from hundreds to perform in the new production of Nanny McPhee as part of the London Children’s Ballet.

Charlie told the Advertiser: “I was at one of my Saturday Royal Ballet classes and this chap came in and was watching us. At the end he said he would fast-track me to the final auditions of this new ballet. I went along and obviously did quite well because they wanted me in the show and it has gone on from there really. It has been so exciting and I am really looking forward to it.”

Charlie’s talent has seen him perform at the Royal Opera House several times, but things could have been very different if he had listened to a handful of his peers. “I love ballet dancing,” he said. “It makes me feel free and I just forget everything else when I’m on stage. Most of my friends think it’s cool that I am dancing on the big stage but there have been some who have not been very supportive. I used to get upset about it but now I don’t let it worry me. It doesn’t matter what they say to me – I just say OK and walk off because I know that I’m doing what I love.”

He added: “Ballet is something that really comes from my heart. It is really tiring but it is so worth it.”

Charlie will be one of dozens of young dancers aged from nine to 16 to perform in the new production of Emma Thompson’s story of an eccentric nanny with magical powers.

Charlie’s mum Nicki said her son had had to learn to cope with negative reactions, having been targeted by bullies when he first started dancing. “At one point during his first year we were worried that some mindless bullying was going to ruin Charlie’s love of dancing,” she said. “It was nothing too serious but he was being called names and made fun of simply because he was more interested in it than football or cricket. Children can be very influenced at that age and if Charlie had taken what they said to heart then it could have meant a waste of his talent. But Charlie is stronger than that.”

Copyright © 2014 Local World

Read another story about Charlie: Young boy dances into ballet school

By David Cosgrove
The Hertfordshire Mercury
November 29, 2013

Spencer Vale, 10,  will perfom in the LCB's Nanny McPhee (photo by Vikki Lince) 2013[Hertfordshire, England] – A young ballet dancer has bagged a role in a West End show for the second year in succession. Spencer Vale, 10, has fought off hundreds of competitors to win a place in the London Children’s Ballet production

Flamstead End Primary School Spencer has been dancing since he was three years old and attends Step2Step Dance Academy in Fairways, Cheshunt.

His proud dad Dean explained that Spencer’s feat of getting into the show two years in a row was rare. Dean, 41, said: “The general consensus was that you don’t get in two years in a row all that often. It was very hard to encourage him and get him ready to do his best but not overdo it – but he did so well. Since he did it last year it’s really helped his confidence. That’s why we’re really pleased that he’s got in again this year, because it’s been so good for him.”

Dean admitted he was not sure where his son’s dancing genes had come from.Spencer’s 16-year-old sister Lucy, who studies at Goffs School, is also a keen dancer.Dean said he had allowed his children to follow their own interests. “I haven’t got the foggiest idea why they’re good at dancing. I’ve always been into motor racing and thought I’d be down at Rye House with Spencer. But from the age of three he got into it and it’s gone from there and we’ve just supported him in that.”

Spencer’s LCB fundraising page

Spencer will find out his role in the show in December when he heads down for the casting call and wardrobe fitting. He will then have to practise at rehearsals once a week until the show in April.

Dean, is looking forward to see his son take part in the performance of Nanny McPhee in Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theatre. After being involved with the London Children’s Ballet (LCB) last year, Spencer met celebrities including Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson.

Spencer is hoping to keep improving his ballet with a move to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, if he is able to get a scholarship. Dean said: “The school is highly respected and very hard to get into.”

© 2014 Herts and Essex Newspapers Ltd

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