Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

11-yr-old to perform with the English Youth Ballet

2014-09-18 11:06:45

Jeanelle Hamilton
MAJOR ROLE: Jeanelle Hamilton

She was dancing before she could barely walk and now ballet-mad Jeanelle Hamilton has just stepped into her first major role with the English Youth Ballet at the tender age of 11. Jeanelle will be performing the famous ballet company's latest production of Sleeping Beauty at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre later this month.

The schoolgirl, who hopes to travel the world as a professional dancer when she's older, beat hundreds of other hopefuls at a four-hour audition to land the role.

STRIDE

Jeanelle was competing against girls up to the age of 18, but took it all in her stride as she has been taking part in solo dance competitions for years.

Her proud mum Jean, from Handsworth in Birmingham, said: "There were 800 youngsters competing for 150 places to the competition was pretty tough, but Jeanelle managed to put in a perfect performance and smile too - I know because I was watching!

"She works so hard and we spend our weekends travelling across the country for competitions. It can be very challenging but I've never heard Jeanelle complain. She never says that she doesn't want to do it."

Mum Jean, an assistant manager at a mental health unit, and her father Andy, who is a youth officer in Sandwell, says the world of dance can also be a very challenging one in financial terms.

"Jeanelle has exceptional talent and we do all we can to support her, but her lessons alone are £100 a month without factoring in travelling and hotel bills for competitions.

"I think in this country it is very hard to succeed in the ballet world. If you do not get a scholarship, then you are on your own and the fees can be prohibitively expensive. Jeanelle has an 18-year-old cousin who is also hoping to become a professional dancer and she has launched her own campaign as a way of trying to get financial help. It's hard for youngsters who are so motivated and know what they want to do in life."

In the meantime, Jeanelle is working through a heavy schedule of rehearsals for Sleeping Beauty, while also settling in to a new secondary school.

She smiles and says: "I'm not complaining because from day one I wanted to be a dancer. This is helping me to live my dream."

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