when 11 year-old Daniel Clelland heard about auditions for an opportunity to take part in the English Youth Ballet performance of Coppelia in Newcastle next month he decided to go along for the experience.
Now, however, he is part of the production and will be heading back down to Newcastle for a casting, then his school half term holidays and weekends will be taken up with rehearsals for the performances at The Journal Tyne Theatre on Friday March 11 and Saturday, March 12.
“I was on and off if I was going to do the audition or not,” said Daniel.
“I didn’t really mind if I got through or not but I would like to have got through.
“At the audition the teacher was at the front and she showed us all what we had to do and the founder was watching you and writing things down,” added Daniel who was surprised and delighted to have been one of the boys chosen to take part in the full length ballet.
Ballet teacher Jane Keenan told her pupils about the English Youth Ballet auditions and Daniel said he would like to do the audition just for the experience.
“He was prepared that he might not get in but he was going to go because it would teach him how to put himself on the line,” said Jane.
“There were thousands of girls and only four boys at the auditions so he doesn’t think he has done such a good thing but they have got to be of the standard of English Youth Ballet because it is the ‘creme de la creme’.
“He came back from the audition completely exhausted but he was completely on a wave of excitement and joy because he had just found out he had been chosen.”
Since he first started dance classes in 2006 at Paxton Village Hall with dance teacher Gemma Gillie, Daniel has loved it, so much in fact that he also started going to ballet lessons with Jane Keenan.
Now he is one of Jane’s keenest pupils and attends ballet and jazz classes five days a week up to Royal Academy of Dance Grade 6.
“I am hoping to get a bus load of people, including my pupils, to go down to the matinee performance on Saturday, March 12,” added Jane.
“It will give them a sense of just what standards are like out there in the big wide world.
“Dancing is clearly what Daniel wants to do in the future and all the girls really support him.
“There is definitely a sense of Daniel being special.”
Daniel is something of a role model in Berwick and Berwickshire for boys who are interested in dance. Unafraid to follow his heart Daniel dances because he loves it.
“At school they asked me if I went to dance classes and I just said yes and that was it,” said Daniel, a pupil at Berwick Middle School.
And through sheer determination, enthusiasm and hard work Daniel now has the chance of a lifetime, to find out just what life would be like as a professional dancer.
Founded in 1998, English Youth Ballet is unique in that it presents full-length classical ballets in regional theatres across England, Scotland and Wales, giving young dancers outside London aged 8-18 years the opportunity to perform in a professional setting.
The young dancers join professional dancers for each production which is complete with costumes, sets, lighting and stage management.
Founder and director Janet Lewis brings enormous energy, drive, enthusiasm and unique creative flair to inspire and lead young dancers to fulfil their potential and to provide them with a unique opportunity to experience life in a professional ballet company.
Now in its 12th year English Youth Ballet is so successful that hundreds of young dancers audition annually for the few places available.
It is an insight into the world of a professional ballet company - from acceptance at the audition, to classes, challenging choreography, tough rehearsals and enjoyable performances in the theatre, which mirrors exactly what a dancer in a professional company experiences.
“The audition is designed to be an experience in itself and we like parents to watch when the audition venue and space allows this,” said a company spokesperson.
“EYB is about performance and this starts with the audition when we look for young dancers who love their dancing and who would benefit from classes, rehearsals and participating in EYB ballet performances.”