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Two Ashton girls selected to perform with English Youth Ballet

Two Ashton girls will be performing as part of an award-winning national dance company's production of 'Cinderella in Hollywood' next weekend, March 8 and 9, at Manchester Opera House.

English Youth Ballet (EYB) was founded in 1998 to provide professional performance experience for talented dancers.

Sofia Skorytska, 14, and Kaila Whittaker, 13, were selected, in hugely competitive auditions, to join the 100-strong cast back in January.

The company, having built a national reputation for the quality of both its full length classical ballets and mixed bill programmes, is made up of eight professional principals and 100 selected dancers (aged eight – 18) from the local area.

The young cast are currently experiencing the life of a professional dancer in rehearsals and are "super excited" to be performing alongside international stars.

Sofia, a student at Kirsten's Dance Academy and St Damian's College, said: “From a young age, dancing was my dream, and at the age of every I realized that I wanted to make this dream come true. From that moment I started doing ballet in Ukraine and fell in love with it not only with my heart but also with my soul.

"One of the best feelings of a dancer is freedom. Through dance I can convey all my emotions and feelings, and also become stronger both physically and mentally.

"Getting on the big stage has always been my goal, and now with EYB I am confidently moving towards it, achieving high standards of dance and technique. I'm incredibly happy to be part of this big performance and I'm sure it will bring a great dance experience."

Kaila began dancing at Toe Tappers in Ashton at just two years old and is currently a pupil at Mossley Hollins High School.

She said: “Dancing has always been part of my family through my aunties and cousins, it just seems fitting that I started dancing as well.

"I love getting the opportunity to do new dances and trying out new things, and it also makes me feel happy. 

"I want to be a dancer when I’m older on the stage and theatres and I’m hoping that by gaining this experience dancing with the EYB that I can learn new skills and get a taste of what I’m hoping to achieve in the future."

EYB Principal Lindsey Fraser will be starring as Cinderella in the production. Prior to joining EYB, she danced with the Vienna Festival Ballet.

“I wish I had danced with EYB when I was young. The dancers learn so much about performance skills and the artistry of ballet," she said.

"I love working as a principal dancer with EYB because I get to dance fantastic roles and teach and watch the young dancers progress.  The sets and costumes in the production are superb and the whole experience is one the young dancers (and the audiences) will never forget!”

Set in the glamorous era of 1950s Hollywood movies, the lavish production of 'Cinderella in Hollywood'  draws its inspiration from the film star Grace Kelly who met Prince Rainier of Monaco at a press party and later married him. Cinderella is a seamstress on a film set and the Fairy Godmother is her late mother - a former movie star of the 1930s. Her wicked sisters are Hollywood starlets competing with each other for starring film roles. The Prince meets Cinderella at the press party but at midnight she flees from the scene leaving a sparkly silver pointe-shoe as the only clue to her identity.

The choreography has been created by Director Miss Janet Lewis and her team of international principal artists who coach the young dancers.

The music combines Shostakovich Jazz Suites and Ballet Suites with memorable melodies from Hollywood films such as Tea for Two, Chinatown and Dancing in the Dark.

The stunning new stage designs for the ballet are by Sebastian Petit and the costume designs are by Keith Bish.

Professional principal dancers have joined EYB from some of the world’s most renowned ballet companies – including the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Portugal, Ballet de Toulouse and Vienna Festival Ballet.

Principal dancers include Rupert Bond, Brenden Bratulic, Lindsey Fraser, Joshua Webb, Julianne Rice-Oxley, Olivia Richards, Oliver Speers and Ann Wall.

Sofia (left) and Kaila (right)

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