A lavish production of Swan Lake at an Oxford theatre will star six international principal dancers and showcase the talents of 99 young dancers from Oxfordshire.

English Youth Ballet's emotionally charged production of Swan Lake is set in 1895 Imperial Russia and tells 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 - and the sumptuous Royal Palace of the Tsar.

Two unlikely lovers meet Odette, a dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet and Prince Sergei, son to the Tsar.

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The Tsar must ensure that Prince Sergei does not marry beneath his station. Equally, the tyrannical Baron Von Rothbart would do anything to secure a royal patronage for his ballet company.

He would even manipulate his own daughter – Odile – to compete for the affections of the Prince.

The cast were selected in big online auditions at Oxford's New Theatre back in March.

Nearly 200 young dancers auditioned for the opportunity.

Eight young dancers from Witney were chosen and are currently experiencing the life of a professional dancer, rehearsing for 60 hours over 10 days at weekends at Cherwell School in Oxford.

English Youth Ballet take over three large rehearsal spaces in the school that are used simultaneously.

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Rehearsals always start with three company classes for the dancers to warm up. Then they need to keep an eye on the complex rehearsal timetable throughout the day.

Georgia Goss, from Witney, said: “I started dancing when I was three years old. I watched a film about ballet and I wanted to try it for myself. I tried it and I liked it! 

"I have lots of nervous excitement about getting it right and a big feeling of pride and joy when it all comes comes together.

"Watching the older girls at EYB en pointe is very inspiring. I want to learn from them so that I can improve my own dancing.

"I also want to see how a ballet production comes together and work with the other dancers to perform the best that I can.”

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

"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.”

Award-winning English Youth Ballet (EYB) is now in its 25th Anniversary year.

The company previously won The Stage Award for special achievement in regional theatre.

Its principal dancers have joined EYB from companies such as English National Ballet and Vienna Festival Ballet while the young dancers are some of the top talents from the local area.

There are now ex-EYB young performers in some of the world’s best companies – including the Royal Ballet.

Lyndsey Fraser, who has danced with the Vienna Festival Ballet, will be starring as Odile – The Black Swan in the production. 

She 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!”

Swan Lake is at New Theatre Oxford Fri 16 – Sat 17 June 2023. Tickets can be bought at the Box Office or at www.atgtickets.com/oxford