No rest for young Sleeping Beauty dance star from Leamington

Sydney Ilsley. Photo by Ben Garner.
Sydney Ilsley. Photo by Ben Garner.

Talented and tenacious child dancer Sydney Illsley will be taking the stage for the English Youth Ballet in its production of Sleeping Beauty at the New Theatre in Oxford next weekend.

North Leamington School pupil Sydney, 12, who lives in Warwick Gates, was among those picked from 300 other dancers after auditioning for the show in July.

And she will be playing the roles of a Lilac Fairy and a Russian Dancer in the production, which will be staged on Friday Octboer 7 and twice on Saturday October 8.

Sydney said: “I don’t feel nervous I’m just excited.

“The story is close to the original fairy tale but it adds some great new characters and the costumes are really nice.

“I can’t wait.”

Sydney took up ballet just two and a half years ago and has reached Grade 4 in that short time.

She is a member of the Leamington & Warwick Academy of Dance (LWAD) and heard about the audition through the academy.

But she has been an Irish dancer since the age of four and is a member of the esteemed Turley Duggan School of Irish Dance in Coventry where she is taught by Free Radio presenter Roisin McCourt .

Last year, Sydney showed her international class when she came 16th in an Irish dancing world medal event in Montreal, Canada.

Sydney, who idolises former ballerina Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell and Lord of the Dance star Ciara Sexton, said: “I took up ballet as a change from the competition of Irish dancing.

“I love the elegance of the ballet but also the excitement and rhythm of Irish dancing.”

Since her successful audition for Sleeping Beauty Sydney has been dancing on seven nights a week including rehearsals for the show and training with Turley Duggan and LWAD while also attending school.

She said she has had to do some of her homework in the car while her mother Mia and father Andrew drive her around.

Mrs Illsley said: “I’m so proud of how much hard work Sydney puts into her dancing.

“We can take her to practice and rehearsals but only she can put the work in and I have never once had to encourage her.

“She does it all herself.”

Sleeping Beauty will star international principal dancers Amy Drew, Adele Robbins, Monica Tapiador, Richard bead, Oliver Speers and Steven Wheeler.

All the soloist and corps de ballet roles in the production will be performed by 100 young dancers.