Burgess Hill ballerinas set to dance with the stars

Five young ballerinas from Burgess Hill Girls School are to get a taste of life as professional dancers after successfully auditioning to appear in the English Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker in November.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:52 pm

The pupils, ageing in range from just nine to 16, will appear alongside professional dancers from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet Theatre on stage at The Hawth theatre in Crawley.

The students - 16-year-old Phoebe Moses, sisters Alice and Martha Gibson, 16 and 14, and nine-year-old Mirabelle Hogan and Amber Mason - took part in ‘gruelling’ face-to face-auditions to make the grade, a particularly tough challenge after only being able to practice at home via Zoom during lockdown.

Phoebe’s mum Sarah Moses said: “Phoebe has been doing ballet since the age of three and dances seven hours per week. Throughout lockdown she continued to dance online with all her regular lessons and workshops, and her dance school were excellent with their provision and support.

The schoolgirls have worked hard for the chance to star in a production with professional dancers

“We are so proud of her. She dances her socks off and gets so much pleasure from her classes and especially loves the opportunity to perform on stage. She can’t wait for the casting in October to meet all the new dancers in the cast. The rehearsals are long and hard work but brilliant fun too.”

Phoebe is no stranger to professional dancing. She has been in the touring company of the London Children’s Ballet and starred in three previous productions with English Youth Ballet, including Swan Lake and Coppelia.

Mirabelle’s mum Rachael Hornigold added: “Lockdown was initially very tricky as all studio classes were cancelled. But it also provided many benefits - so many professional dancers and teachers started offering online lessons from all over the world. Mirabelle got to meet and make friends with young dancers from different parts of the UK and overseas.”

English Youth Ballet is celebrating its 23rd year of touring and has established a reputation for its dramatic productions of famous full-length classical ballets. Each year, 100 young ballerinas are invited to perform alongside professional principal dancers in productions throughout the UK.

English Youth Ballet gives young dancers throughout the UK a wonderful performance opportunity to dance alongside professionals

Liz Laybourn, headteacher at Burgess Hill Girls School, said: “These girls, including Amber and Mirabelle who are only nine, have worked solidly and determinedly for many years to achieve the high standard they are at now and we could not be prouder of them. Going to see them on stage with the English Youth Ballet is going to be a real treat and we can’t wait!”