Talented young dancers from Aylesbury and Buckingham to perform at Waterside Theatre

The youngsters will dance alongside professionals in Swan Lake for the English Youth Ballet
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Twelve talented young dancers from the Aylesbury and Buckingham areas will be performing alongside international professional dancers at Aylesbury's Waterside Theatre this month.

Eight-year-old Lele Hale from Tingewick and 15-year-old Katie Williams from Buckingham were chosen to perform in the English Youth Ballet’s production of Swan Lake.

Also in the cast are Andrea and Johanna Banga, aged 13 and 16, Georgia Lansdown, 15, Thandi Mthombeni, 12, Jessica Murray, 15, and Madeleine Newington, 14, all from Aylesbury, along with Molly Dobson, 14, from Weston Turville, Ave Barkworth, 11, from North Marston, and Zara Worrell, 10, and Yixin Zhou, nine, from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

Back row: Jessica Murray, Madeleine Newington, Georgia Lansdowne, Andrea Banga, Johanna Banga. Front row: Thandi Mthombeni, Molly Dobson, Ava Barkworth, Yixin Zhou. Picture: Ben GarnerBack row: Jessica Murray, Madeleine Newington, Georgia Lansdowne, Andrea Banga, Johanna Banga. Front row: Thandi Mthombeni, Molly Dobson, Ava Barkworth, Yixin Zhou. Picture: Ben Garner
Back row: Jessica Murray, Madeleine Newington, Georgia Lansdowne, Andrea Banga, Johanna Banga. Front row: Thandi Mthombeni, Molly Dobson, Ava Barkworth, Yixin Zhou. Picture: Ben Garner

The cast were devastated when their 2020 performances were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Now the performances have been rescheduled, and the young ballerinas are finally getting the chance to dance at the Waterside Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 22 and 23.

Katie Williams, who trains with the Juliet Ratnage School of Performing Arts and attends the Royal Latin School, said: "When I’m dancing, I love the satisfaction of mastering a new move.

"But most of all I love performing on a stage, that moment when you feel the lights on your face and everyone is watching.

Kate Williams and Lele Hale. Photo Ben GarnerKate Williams and Lele Hale. Photo Ben Garner
Kate Williams and Lele Hale. Photo Ben Garner

"It’s nice to reunite with dancers from previous EYB productions but also make new friendships.

"Learning a new dance is always challenging but the teachers and principal dancers give helpful advice and are always encouraging."

Lele Hale, who attends Bourton Meadow Academy and trains at Arts 1 in Milton Keynes, said: “I was two and a half years old when I started ballet.

"When I’m dancing, it makes me feel happy and free.

"I’m so proud and excited to be part of English Youth Ballet."

Tring Park student Yixin Zhou said: "I started dancing when I was three years old.

"I saw a ballet poster in nursery. It looked so beautiful - so I started dancing.

"The best feelings about being a dancer are moving and expressing yourself.

"I am really loving the rehearsals with EYB."

Johanna Banga, who trains at Aylesbury Performing Arts Centre and attends The Grange School, said: "I started dancing when I was five years old when my parents introduced me to it because I was always dancing around the house, and I'm still dancing now and I love it .

"The best feeling is when the music is playing you just forget about everything and focus on your dancing.

"The rehearsals for Swan Lake are going really well - it’s a ballet everyone knows and one of my favourites.

"It's really special to work with such amazing dancers and the principals and we are learning and picking up the choreography really quickly. "

There will be three performances of EYB’s Swan Lake, which stars six international principal dancers and showcases the talents of 90 young dancers from the local area.

The cast were selected in massive online audition where 150 young dancers submitted videos to English Youth Ballet.

By the time they go on stage, the young cast will have rehearsed for 60 hours over 10 days of weekend rehearsals, with three large rehearsal spaces at Aylesbury High School in use simultaneously.

EYB director Janet Lewis MBE said: “The cast have shown great enthusiasm and excitement in their Swan Lake 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.

"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.”

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