Essex: Nine-year-old Theo wins place at Royal Ballet School

A TALENTED young dancer has secured a place at the world’s top ballet school – just five months after taking up the activity.

Theo Canning, nine, from Great Dunmow, discovered last week that he has gained one of six junior associate places at the Royal Ballet (Lower) School in Richmond Park, London, following a rigorous audition.

More than 1,200 students from dance schools from around the world battled for one of the coveted places.

His acceptance puts Theo on the right path to emulating some of the profession’s most well-known and respected international stars such as Margot Fonteyn, Darcey Bussell, Monica Mason – who is the current director at The Royal Ballet Company – Anthony Dowell, Wayne Sleep and current British stars Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson. All were pupils of the school.

Theo’s mum, Clare, said: “It is a massive achievement, particularly because he only started five months ago, and we are so very proud of him.”


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Theo, a pupil at FKS School in Felsted, caught the dancing bug after going to watch Billy Elliot at the theatre.

After one lesson he was “hooked”, according to his mum, and now he trains up to six times as week with renowned Russian dancer Vlada Smith at Canfield Moat.

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“She is excellent with him, very precise and very firm – he loves it,” said Mrs Canning.

“He has worked really hard. If he cannot do something he will go away, practice and practice it, until he can do it.”

Theo will attend the Royal Ballet school in Covent Garden every Saturday until he turns 11 when he could have the chance of boarding at the prestigious White Lodge – a move he is eager to make.

“It is something that he wants to do, it does not faze him,” said Mrs Canning, who added that Theo will also move to St Nicholas School in Old Harlow because they do ballet dancing.

“His dream is to become a professional dancer with the Royal Ballet, not just as a dancer but as the principal dancer.”

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