Let's hear it for the boys - first-time dancers from across the region are being put through their paces during final rehearsals for new Matthew Bourne spectacular Lord of the Flies which opens at Newcastle Theatre Royal next week.
If they are suffering any nerves ahead of their big stage debut they certainly weren’t showing them yesterday as they joined the show’s professional cast for the first time.
The 16 emerging talents from across the region were picked from more than 300 applicants for roles in the latest much-anticipated show by Bourne, one of the UK’s top choreographers and famous for his creation of the all-male Swan Lake.
The 12 to 20-year-olds made the grade during a tough audition process despite some boasting Billy Elliot-style stories of never having danced before.
Sam Carruthers, from Whitley Bay was one of those who had already found his dancing feet and the 13-year-old is in his second year of an advanced training programme at Dance City in Newcastle, having been inspired by watching Diversity perform on Britain’s Got Talent.
Now the Whitley Bay High School pupil has mastered more than street dance and has his sights set on dance school in London when he is older.
During yesterday’s run-through, using rehearsal space at Heaton Manor school, Sam said he was initially not too bothered about the auditions, which took place at Dance City, but became increasingly drawn into its fun and friendly atmosphere and was “delighted to get the phone call” saying he was in.
“At the moment it feels surreal,” he said. “When I think of so many people at the Theatre Royal I do have momentary bursts of nerves but it’s more excitement.”
He and his fellow dancers were chosen after a recruitment drive launched earlier this year, following the success of a similar idea in Glasgow in 2011 which resulted in an Arts Council-funded premiere of the production.
Thanks to a second grant paying for a repeat south of the Scottish border, the dance company’s education and emerging talent charity programme Re:Bourne set about finding the talent it needed in the North East.
The show is set to offer a unique take on William Golding’s 1954 classic tale about a group of boys who try to govern themselves when they are stuck together on an uninhabited island.
We can expect a particularly dramatic ending as attempts at civilisation break down and Sam says his favourite parts are when the boys turn “completely psycho” and the slow-motion sequences when the tension ramps up.
Fellow 13-year-olds Marcel Li Ping, from Middlesbrough, and Ciaran Oakley, of Stockton, also had prior dancing experience.
Marcel said: “I haven’t seen the stage yet; I don’t think I’ve even been to the Theatre Royal before so I think I’ll be a bit nervous but it won’t be bad as I’ve done shows before.”
At 17, Andrew Ashton, from Guisborough, Cleveland, is one of the older recruits and is an assistant dance teacher.
He said: “I’m a bit nervous about getting it wrong. But we’ve been rehearsing really hard to impress them.”
The rest of the local recruits making their debut alongside the professional dancers in the show which runs from next Wednesday to Saturday are Ruben Copley, 11, and Andrew Davison, 17, from Northumberland; Joe Derbyshire, 13, Finlay Murray, 10, Louis Swanepoel, 12, from Newcastle; Amonik Melaco, 13, from Monkseaton; Robin Larkin, 17, from Gateshead; Jack Hindmarch, 13, from Washington; Nathan Denton, 13, from South Shields; John Hansford, 19, from Peterlee, Joseph Wright, 20, from Sunderland; and Carl Hughes, 15, from Northallerton.