Trio on their toes for ballet

Dancers Kate Ryder, Anna Fitzpatrick and Lucy Fitzpatrick. Picture by Ben Garner.
Dancers Kate Ryder, Anna Fitzpatrick and Lucy Fitzpatrick. Picture by Ben Garner.

Three young dancers are stepping up to the professional stage after landing roles with the English Youth Ballet (EYB).

Nine-year-old Lucy Fitzpatrick and Anna Fitzpatrick, 12, from Cullercoats, along with 11-year-old Kate Ryder, from Whitley Bay, have been chosen among the region’s 100 top young ballet stars to perform in Swan Lake at the Sunderland Empire.

They will share the stage with several international principal dancers after being selected from nearly 250 young hopefuls, aged eight to 18, over two auditions.

Anna, who attends St Thomas More RC Academy and, along with the others, trains at Jade Harrison School of Dance, said: “I started dancing when I was five years old. I think it was my mum’s idea and she took me along.

“I am looking forward to dancing with English Youth Ballet, with all the costumes. I’ve got lots of family coming along to watch me.

“In the future I would like to be a dancer in a ballet company.”

Rehearsals are taking place at Walker Technology College under the guidance of EYB’s principal dancers, including Oliver Speers, who takes the role of Prince Sergei.

He said: “The young dancers are treated like professional dancers during rehearsals. We work them hard, but the results are fantastic.

“They learn what the life of a professional dancer is like. They are living their dream and they just love it.”

The well-known ballet, with a score by Tchaikovsky, is set in 1895 Imperial Russia, telling a tale of love, rivalry, greed and murder as two unlikely lovers meet during preparations for the ballet.

EYB artistic director Janet Lewis has created the choreography, with some 240 costumes designed by West End professional Keith Bish.

It runs at the Sunderland Empire on Friday, June 16, at 7.30pm, and Saturday, June 17, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. For tickets, call 0844 871 3022.