Dr Coppelius’s latest dolls

Geilguid Academy dancers from Haywards Heath school
Geilguid Academy dancers from Haywards Heath school

Pupils from the Haywards Heath-based Gielgud Academy of Performing Arts have been picked to appear with professional dancers during their UK Tour.

Vienna Festival Ballet Company artistic director Peter Mallek invited eight pupils to dance with the company during its performances of Coppelia in East Grinstead and Worthing this month.

Peter, who is a former international ballet star and contemporary of Rudolph Nureyev, said the children would be dolls in Dr Coppelius workshop scene during Act 2.

GAPA principal Suzanne Gielgud said: “It is a dream come true for these children to actually be on stage and perform with the professionals. It’s the sort of once-in-a-lifetime experience that they will never forget.”

Both Suzanne and her husband, the Hollywood choreographer Piers Gielgud, danced with Vienna Festival Ballet during their professional careers.

Ben Vickerstaff, from Balcombe, said: “It was amazing to see how high the men were jumping when we were watching them in rehearsal – I want to be able to jump like that one day.”

Isobel Summers from Worth added: “I’m so glad we get to see what life is really like in a real ballet company.

“It’s made me more determined than ever to work hard so I can be a professional dancer when I am older.”

Pupils will join the Vienna Festival Ballet Company on Thursday, November 8, at 5pm and 8pm at the Chequer Mead Theatre, East Grinstead, and Friday, November 9, at 7.30pm at Worthing Pavilion.

Pictured seated with Vienna Festival dancers are, from left: Lucy Summers, Polly Allen, Owen Mordecai, Ben Vickerstaff, Pierre Bruton, Isobel Summers, Bonnie West.