March 13 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Friday, February 14, 2014
Budding Billy Elliots are being sought for a flagship all-boys ballet school setting up in Finsbury
London Boys’ Ballet School, the first of its kind in the UK, is set to open next month and founder James Anthony is hoping to end the taboo surrounding lads in leotards.
Mr Anthony, 32, started one-on-one ballet lessons a year ago as he was too embarrassed to take it up as a child in Swansea.
Now he wants to stop other boys being put off by creating an environment in which they don’t feel like the odd ones out.
Mr Anthony said: “I grew up in a very performing arts-orientated family, but I was still too embarrassed to take up dance when I was younger and to tell people I wanted to do it.
“It’s got a stigma associated with it.
“The problem you have with boys who do take up ballet is that they often end up being the only boy in their class and then they give it up.”
Mr Anthony recently took over his mother’s dance school business in Swansea, which has been running for more than 35 years and has 150-plus students.
He is involved in a number of other theatre and dance projects in London and south Wales and is a former teacher and sports coach.
Drafting in his sister Amelia Jane, an experienced ballet teacher who has performed and taught all over the world, he is hoping to show boys that there is nothing embarrassing about ballet.
“I took up ballet when I was 31 at the Royal Dance Academy and they said it would never happen but now I’m looking at taking exams.
“I think that it’s such a great thing for young boys to take up. It’s great fun but it is also incredibly challenging.
“You might think it looks very graceful and easy on stage but the amount of strength and skill that goes into it is huge.”
Despite living in Brixton, Mr Anthony chose Islington as a base for the school as he said the majority of interest he had received for the project had come from north London.
The classes, suitable for boys aged four to 14, will be held at The Old Finsbury Town Hall in Rosebery Avenue.
n The school opens on March 1 and the first class is free. Go to www.boysballetlondon.com for details of how to sign up.