Belfast Telegraph

Top Northern Ireland young dancers plié for Swan Lake auditions

By Rachel Martin

Some of Northern Ireland’s top dancers fought it out on Sunday for spaces in one of the most hotly anticipated ballet company auditions.

Almost 170 dancers turned up to the first round of auditions for English Youth Ballet’s Swan Lake at Methodist College, Belfast. With a further 100 older dancers expected to turn up the second audition.

However, the panel will have to whittle the group down to just 100.

The young dancers sat in lines as they waited for the group auction to begin. Everyone was asked to demonstrate the same techniques, working their way through the positions in time with an instructor.

It’s hard for the young talent to stand out as the sea of cerise, lilac and pink bends with each movement, but the group is rotated so that everyone has a chance to stand at the front and impress the panel.

Eventually the group is split into two, giving the dancers more space — but this is when the real scrutiny begins.

The chosen dancers will take part in four performances of Swan Lake at the Grand Opera House in Belfast in November.

But it’s not just for girls - Ciaran Mac Giolla Cheara is north Belfast’s answer to Billy Elliot.

The 10-year-old hasn’t looked back since he started dancing four years ago.

Mum Sinead said she tried to put him off at first but now realises how serious he is about the art.

“I’ve no idea where he got the idea from. He just started to say he wanted to do ballet classes. I made him do Irish dancing for a while but he was adamant he wanted to do ballet.

“I thought if I put him into a class with 30 pink tutus that would sicken him but he’s really surprised me and has been really dedicated to it.”

As well as ballet, Ciaran also boxes, plays hurling and Gaelic football.

“I think at the start a few ones did say things to him but they always came off the worse so they’ve learned to let him be.”

English Youth Ballet director Miss Lewis says she can often spot a talented dancer just from how they hold themselves.

She said: “I expect the dancers to know a little bit about the technique they are trying to perform.

“I like to see some co-ordinated movement and poise in the body. I also like if they try to look confident even if they don’t feel it; I always say a smile goes a long way.”

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