Talented dancers from Blackburn, Darwen and Accrington have landed parts in a major production at the Manchester Opera House.

They will perform alongside internationally renowned professional ballet dancers in English Youth Ballet’s (EYB) 'Cinderella in Hollywood' on Friday 8 and Saturday March 9.

In January, they were chosen to be part of the 100-strong cast and selected following competitive auditions involving 1,500 hopefuls.

Five of the students attend Chantelle's Dance Academy.

They are Zoe Ashton, 11, of Ribblesdale High School; Anna Barton, 12, of Clitheroe Grammar School; Georgia Dixon, 10, from Balderstone St Leonards School; Francesca Dewhurst-Slattery, 10, of Mellor St Mary School and Autumn Taylor, 11, of Ribblesdale High School.

Isobel Cunningham, 11, attends Sandersons Dance School and St Christopher's CofE High School.

Rothwell Arts Dance Academy members Pixie Ashcroft, eight, attends Lower Darwen Primary School and 12-year-old Niamh Keogh attends Darwen Vale School.

EYB principal, Lindsey Fraser, will be starring as Cinderella.  Before joining EYB she danced with the Vienna Festival Ballet.  

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

"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, this lavish production 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 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 new stage designs for the ballet are by Sebastian Petit and the costume designs are by Keith Bish.

The 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.

Lancashire Telegraph: Lindsey Fraser, will be starring as Cinderella (Picture: Peter Mares)

Some fun facts

  • The cast will rehearse for 80 hours for the production.
  • There will be a team of over 30 chaperones required to look after the young performers. 
  • EYB worked with over 600 young dancers across the UK in 2023 
  • There are approximately 260 costumes required for Cinderella in Hollywood.
  • There are over 50 pairs of pointe shoes, 60 pairs of soft ballet shoes and 30 pairs of character shoes required in the ballet. 
  • EYB have 6 full-length ballets in their repertory (Giselle/Swan Lake/Coppelia/Sleeping Beauty/Nutcracker/Cinderella in Hollywood)