Belfast Telegraph

Soldier performs on stage after keeping dance passion secret

Alex Smith was the only boy in his dance school after signing up at the age of four.

Trooper Alex Smith, of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, leaps into the air during rehearsals for 10 Soldiers (Ben Birchall/PA)
Trooper Alex Smith, of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, leaps into the air during rehearsals for 10 Soldiers (Ben Birchall/PA)

A soldier is taking to the stage having kept his passion for dance a secret from his colleagues.

Alex Smith, 22, is a trooper from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

He studied ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance before deciding to join the Army three years ago.

Smith, from Cwmbran, South Wales, did not tell his fellow soldiers about his previous dance training.

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Alex Smith holds dance partner Harriet Ellis (Ben Birchall/PA)

He is now back on stage, having been cast in 10 Soldiers, which “tells the stories of men and women serving on the front line” and opens at the Birmingham Hippodrome in May.

He told the Press Association: “I saw 5 Soldiers (a previous production) live-streamed when I was just sat in my room, scrolling down Facebook.

“I thought, I’ve danced before and now I’m in the Army. What a perfect opportunity it would be to go back into dance. All the work I’ve done for all those years could count for something.”

After landing a role in the show and its follow-up, 10 Soldiers, Smith is on secondment and is due to return to his regiment in June.

He says being a dancer is physically arduous.

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Trooper Alex Smith in rehearsals (Ben Birchall/PA)

“It’s a different sort of strain on the body. You’ve got bruises on your back, your shoulders are hurting. It still hurts every day. It’s physically taxing.”

Smith was the only boy at his local dance school after asking his parents for lessons at the age of four.

“There were lots of girls, over 200 girls and I was the only boy,” he said. “Now it’s getting a bit easier. There are five or six boys in every class there now.”

He said his dance background helped with being a soldier “a lot” because “I’d been doing classes every day, runs every day” with Northern Ballet.

“I was naturally quite fit, which put me in a good place for training.

“And if I did leave the Army, eventually, I wouldn’t struggle. I know how to communicate with people more, how to get about life and find different opportunities for myself.”

He does not think he will inspire his fellow soldiers to try out any of his moves, saying it would be “quite a big one to climb to get soldiers to dance”.

But some of his colleagues are attending his performances.

When he told them about his background and that he was “leaving for a few months” to take part in a dance production, “the reaction was like, ‘It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to do both'”.

Smith is also taking part in BBC Arts DancePassion, a live-streaming day featuring 11 hours of performance, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes glimpses from across the UK.

The event on Friday can been seen at bbc.co.uk/dance

Press Association

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