A group of young dancers will stage two special performances of Swan Lake this weekend in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Inspired by the royal family’s long-standing love of ballet, the 35 dancers aged nine to 18 from High Points Youth Ballet (HPYB) will perform at the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey on Saturday and Sunday.
The performances will see the return from the Central School of Ballet in London of former HPYB alumnus Rachel Neale, who will take the lead role of Odette in Tchaikovsky’s work.
Founded by former ballerina Rana O’Brien, HPYB provides year-round pre-professional classical training and performance opportunities to young dancers who aspire to a career in ballet.
This weekend’s productions have been supported by National Lottery funding from the Arts Council.
HPYB artistic director Jacob Allison said: “We are very much looking forward to bringing Swan Lake to Theatre at the Mill this Platinum Jubilee Weekend.
“Rachel is a former student at High Points Youth Ballet and we are delighted to have her return from her ballet studies to perform.
“This production is a collaboration of local and international artists, including myself; repetiteurs Anna Carapellotti and Ero Tsampazi; costumers Fiona Dunbar, Laura Murphy, Katrina and Ritchie Larmour; visual artist Sharon Murphy, and 35 young dancers from across Northern Ireland, including Amy Crawford and Lauren McConnell, who will begin vocational training this year in England.
“Performing opportunities like these are invaluable for students pursuing dance careers. It teaches them classical repertoire they can then put on their CVs, and it strengthens their skills as performers”.
HPYB is one of 13 organisations to have received National Lottery funding last month through the Arts Council’s small grants programme.
The programme is designed to encourage organisations to get more people to engage with the arts through creative, community-based projects.
Grants are awarded on a monthly basis and organisations can apply for up to £10,000 to support projects in any art form.
Noirin McKinney of the Arts Council said: “We are delighted to be able to support High Points Youth Ballet with this stunning new production of Swan Lake.
“All of the young dancers have worked incredibly hard and it will be wonderful to see them perform once again, on stage, in front of a live audience.”
Tickets for High Points Youth Ballet’s Swan Lake can be purchased from the Theatre at the Mill website https://theatreatthemill.com/.
More than 200 free tickets have been made available for youth and community groups.