Ballet girls are heading for the top

Talented ballet dancers from Stuart Stage School in Heckmondwike
Talented ballet dancers from Stuart Stage School in Heckmondwike

Seven talented dancers have progressed from a Heckmondwike dance school to two of the country’s leading ballet institutions.

The group, who attend Stuart Stage School, have been accepted on a mixture of training courses run by the Royal Ballet School and the Northern Ballet Academy.

They will now take part in classes in Manchester and Leeds for those with exceptional potential in classical ballet.

Elaina Varazinskis, nine, has been offered a place on the Royal Ballet’s Junior Associates scheme, and classmates Pollyanna Featherstone, 12, and Madeleine Grogan, 11, were two of only 35 children to be accepted onto the Mid Associates programme.

Pollyanna’s elder sister Lilyella, 14, was successful in gaining a training place with the Northern Ballet Academy for a fourth year, where she will be joined by Madison Robertshaw, 11, Emily Brown, 12, and Claudia Popek, 11. The girls will study alongside other gifted ballerinas as they aim for careers in professional dance.

Their teacher Jill Stuart was delighted by the girls’ success.

“We do tend to do really well in these schemes, although they are hard to get onto. They are really dedicated children, and this is what they want to do; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t dance for a living. They’re got lots of talent and are all very motivated.”

The group, who attend local schools including Mirfield Free Grammar, Westborough High and Whitcliffe Mount, will be able to apply to attend residential ballet schools at the ages of 16 or 18.

“We are really proud of them - they’re all an absolute dream to teach, it’s an absolute pleasure every time they step in the building. They’re lovely girls and they’ve worked so hard,” added Jill.