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Dancer Melissa Hamilton was told she would never make it - now she is star of the Royal Ballet

BY JONATHAN McCAMBRIDGE

After a weekend dominated by controversy over the resignation of one of its key players, the Londonderry City of Culture celebrations were placed firmly back on track at the weekend when the Royal Ballet made its first visit to Northern Ireland in 20 years.

It was also the first time that local ballet sensation Melissa Hamilton had performed professionally in her home country. The Dromore-born dancer has wowed critics around the world with her technical ability and drive and determination.

Speaking ahead of the Derry performance she spoke of her excitement about dancing in her home country for the first time. She said: "I am coming back home.

"It has made my mum and dad incredibly proud."

Melissa left Northern Ireland several years ago to pursue a professional dancing career. She defied critics who said she would never make it to become one of the world's best known ballerinas.

She recently revealed the astonishing workload that has helped her rise to the top in the competitive world of ballet.

She said: "I start warming up at about 10'30am. I rehearse from midday until 6.30pm. Then it is two hours for hair and costume before we are on stage. I might start the day with a new pair of shoes and they are written off by the end of it.

"You just live with constant aches and pains because your body is doing things it should not have to do."

Melissa learned to dance in Lisburn.

During her time at home it is understood she made contact with her former teacher Fiona Campbell, who was recently taken ill.

The build-up to the Royal Ballet performance was dominated by the shock over the resignation of Dermot McLaughlin from his role as Derry City Council's City of Culture project director.

Mr McLaughlin had been appointed to his position with Derry City Council in October 2012.

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