The English Youth Ballet is back to charm audiences, after the Covid pandemic radically changed everything for performers around the world and cancelled shows, including for this Chesham ballerina. 

The eleven-year-old dancer Naomi Gillett is finally able to go on stage with the English Youth Ballet’s show of the ballet classic Swan Lake.

The much-awaited Swan Lake has three shows at Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury from March 22 until March 23.

After a big online auditioning for the show, she was selected from 150 applicants to join the cast of six international principal dancers and 90 young dancers.

Ms Gillett – dancing the role of ‘Royal Courtier’ - said: “I’m very excited to be performing Swan Lake with EYB as it’s one of my favourite ballets and participating is just great.

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“I love the exhilarating rush from waiting in the wings of a theatre ready to perform and then engaging and putting smiles on the audience’s faces.

Her dancing career began as a three-year-old at Maggie Monks School of Dancing in Chesham, where she still learns tap dancing while studying at Ley Hill School and training at the Tring Park School of Performing Arts.

Ms Gillett added: “I’ve always loved music and remember twirling around at home dancing to whatever we were listening to.

“So once the opportunity to start lessons came along, I leaped for joy!"

Bucks Free Press: Naomi Gillett was selected from 150 applicants (Credit: Ben Garner) Naomi Gillett was selected from 150 applicants (Credit: Ben Garner)

The young 90 dancers practised for 60 hours over 10 days during their weekends at Aylesbury High School for every poised movement to look effortless on stage for Swan Lake, a dramatic story of love, rivalry, greed and murder set against the backdrop of 1985 Imperial Russia.

English Youth Ballet’s director Janet Lewis MBE said: “The cast have shown great enthusiasm and excitement in their Swan Lake 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.

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“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

Talented young dancer Ms Gillett keeps herself busy with other types of performing arts, as she recently took part in the Chesham Arts Festival, where she came second in the poetry speech class and a joint first in a string class for grades 5-6.

She said: “Alongside my passion for dancing, where I now study ballet and musical theatre at Tring Park School of Performing Arts, I love singing, playing the cello and acting.”

Bucks Free Press: Swan Lake rehearsals (Credit: EYB) Swan Lake rehearsals (Credit: EYB)

During the rehearsals, the young crew experienced the work-life balance of a professional dancer as they managed three company classes to warm up and kept an eye on the complex daily practice schedule.

Notably, former young dancers from EYB based in Kent have gone on to perform in the world’s leading ballet companies, such as the Royal Ballet.

Tickets for Swan Lake at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre can be bought from the box office here or at 0844 871 7615.