Six girls from Bicester are living their dream of becoming professional ballet dancers after they were selected to be part of the cast of Swan Lake.

The production is being put on by the English Youth Ballet (EYB) and they are set to perform at The New Theatre in Oxford from June 16 to June 17.

There will be a total of three performances across the two days.

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The cast will star six international principal dancers and showcase the talents of 99 young dancers from the local area.

Megan Bell, aged 12, Sophia Hale, aged 15, Lily Hill, aged 14, Beatrice Hodsdon, aged 14, Grace Kemp, aged 12 and Evelyn McDonald, aged 10 were all selected during auditions back in March.

Nearly 200 young dancers auditioned for the opportunity.

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The cast are rehearsing for a total of 60 hours over 10 days of rehearsals over weekends at Cherwell School in Oxford.

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At the rehearsals the girls are having the opportunity to experience the life of a professional dancer.

English Youth Ballet Director, Janet Lewis MBE said: “The cast have shown great enthusiasm and excitement in their rehearsals.

“The children are obviously so pleased to be back dancing again and taking part in a ballet that they love.

“Since the past year of lockdowns with the many restrictions, they are displaying a sense of freedom that is boosting their self-confidence and wellbeing.

“The cast are working hard not only on their ballet technique but on their performance quality that expresses the part they are dancing. The incentive is to be back performing again in the theatre.”

Swan Lake is set in 1895 in Imperial Russia and tells a story of love, rivalry, greed and murder.

The action takes place in the Mariinsky Theatre - where the Mariinsky Ballet are preparing for a production of Swan Lake.

English Youth Ballet is now in its 25th year and the company previously won The Stage Award for special achievement in regional theatre.

Principal dancer at the ballet company, Lyndsey Fraser said: “I wish I had danced with EYB when I was young. 

"The dancers learn so much about performance skills and the artistry of ballet. 

"I love working as a principal dancer with EYB because I get to dance fantastic roles and teach and watch the young dancers progress. 

"The sets and costumes in the production are superb and the whole experience is one the young dancers (and the audiences) will never forget!”