First production for youth ballet

Sussex Youth Ballet.

Sussex Youth Ballet.

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Sussex Youth Ballet Company shows off young talents with its first-ever production in Worthing.

Attracting young dancers from across West Sussex, the company, which was set up two years ago, offers workshops in Haywards Heath.

Now they are bringing their production of The Enchanted Mirror - devised by company co-founder and owner Robyn Baker - to the Connaught Theatre on Sunday, February 26 at 4pm and 7.30pm (tickets on 01903 206206).

The show will feature 40 young performers aged from ten to 17.

“I set the company up in 2010,” says Robyn who lives in Haywards Heath. “At the time I was with a business partner, and we did the first year together, but now it is just me running it.”

The mission behind it is an important one: the emphasis is very strongly on enjoyment.

“I teach a lot of syllabus and also free ballet classes. With the syllabus work, which is fantastic and the best thing for the children, sometimes, with all the technical work, the enjoyment factor can be lost a bit - which is a shame when you watch the students going through the motions a little bit. Sometimes they can lose sight of why they are doing it, which is the enjoyment and the performance.”

Of course, you have to have the technique: “But the children that don’t have the aspiration to go on to become classical dancers can sometimes lose that reason.”

Robyn set up the company to put that reason firmly back on the agenda.

From March to September the company do monthly workshops, with Robyn or with guest teachers. From September to February they work on a production. Last year they staged it at Roedean. This year, they switch to Worthing.

And this year, the piece is much more narrative, a chance to get the youngsters working on their story-telling skills as well as their dancing technique.

“The story came up when me and my mum were thinking of different ideas. It’s about a little girl called Molly who starts in the human world. It’s her birthday and she has a party. But her sister gets jealous and steals a present and runs off with it. Molly ends up in the attic where she finds the magic mirror. She goes through it into a parallel world… It’s a mix of Nutcracker and Narnia really, all those things put together.”

Robyn’s next auditions for the company are at the beginning of March. You can get in touch with her through the website www.sussexyouthballetcompany.co.uk where there is also more information about the company.