The ballet star from Widnes

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Sunday 14th April 2013

IMG_1878It’s four years since Daniel Dolan won a place at Moscow’s prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

He was just 16 but in the intervening years the boy from Widnes has gone from strength to strength. He has learned to speak fluent Russian and worked his socks off to perfect his technique at the Bolshoi, generally regarded as having the toughest training programme for male ballet dancers.

But all the hard work has paid off. Twenty-year-old Daniel has now become only the second British man to graduate from the world-renowned ballet school. He passed his three exams with flying colours and this week his proud parents flew to Moscow to watch his graduation performance.

Not only that, Daniel was placed in the top 25 per cent of his year group and hopes to win a job at one of the two main St Petersburg ballet companies or the Stanislavsky, Moscow’s second company. Apparently the Bolshoi’s own corps de ballet is hard for a foreigner to break into but Daniel hopes he might return as a soloist one day.

It’s an amazing story but I can’t help feeling for his parents. They’ve supported their son (who’s been dubbed a real-life Billy Elliot) every step of the way but even so it must have been a wrench to say goodbye each time he left for Moscow.

It’s the end of the Easter holidays today and my 18-year-old son has just set off back to university. It’s less than 200 miles away and he’s coming home for a bike race in a fortnight – but I still felt a lump in my throat when I waved him off…

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