Bonsall sisters Florence and Molly Ross, 11 and 17, will be taking the stage alongside Amber Barrett-Elson, 11, from Wirksworth, when the English Youth Ballet’s (EYB) Sleeping Beauty arrives at the Theatre Royal on Friday and Saturday, July 22-23.
They are among five students from Peak Ballet – the school run by Florence and Molly’s mum Lara – selected to join the cast following a competitive video audition earlier this year which saw more than 150 dancers vying for the spots.
They are currently getting a taste of how the professionals live, with 60 hours of intensive rehearsals over ten weekend dates alongside seasoned performers from around the world – and Molly taking on one of the top solo pointe routines.
Lara said: “It’s just a thrilling opportunity to work with professional dancers. It’s nerve-wracking but now they are into rehearsals they are just really excited to be part of a big production.
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“EYB comes to the area about once every four years, so to be part of it is really special. I’ll be proud as punch when I see them on stage. I know how hard they have to work in a very short amount of time.”
Now entering its 24th year, EYB has established a reputation for classic and dramatic productions of the famous full length classical ballets.
With professional dancers, formerly from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet taking the leading roles, the company gives young dancers throughout the UK the kind of big break which has seen many go on to some of the world’s best companies.
The cast will perform the show three times in two days, in a production which puts an innovative spin on the classic fairytale. Of course, good will still triumph over evil.
EYB director Janet Lewis said: “The cast have shown great enthusiasm and excitement in their Sleeping Beauty rehearsals. The children are obviously so pleased to be back dancing again and taking part in a ballet that they love.
“Since the past year of lockdowns with the many restrictions, they are displaying a sense of freedom that is boosting their self-confidence and wellbeing.”
She added: “The cast are working hard not only on their ballet technique but on their performance quality that expresses the part they are dancing. The incentive is to be back performing again in the theatre.”
EYB Principal Lyndsey Fraser, a former member of the Vienna Festival Ballet, will be starring as Aurora in the production.
She said: “I wish I had danced with EYB when I was young. The dancers learn so much about performance skills and the artistry of ballet.
“I love working as a principal dancer with EYB because I get to dance fantastic roles and teach and watch the young dancers progress.
“The sets and costumes in the production are superb and the whole experience is one the young dancers – and the audiences – will never forget.”
For tickets go to trch.co.uk.