This summer, London’s esteemed all-children ballet company are reviving their 2001 hit, Ballet Shoes (based on the much loved children’s novel by Noel Streatfeild). The show - which will run at London’s Peacock Theatre from 4th-7th July - marks London Children’s Ballet’s 25th Anniversary season and will be brought to life by the company’s talented cast comprising 56 young dancers aged 9-16. With specially commissioned choreography, sets, costumes and scores and a live orchestra accompanying each performance, the London Children’s Ballet productions provide an ideal introduction to ballet and classical music for young audiences and their families. This year’s revival of Ballet Shoes will be choreographed by ex-LCB cast member, Ruth Brill who is now a First Artist of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Ruth returns to LCB 18 years after she starred as Pauline Fossil in the original 2001 production of Ballet Shoes which was choreographed by Cathy Marston. A unique charitable organisation, London Children’s Ballet was founded in 1994 by Artistic Director Lucille Briance MBE whose goal it was to create a means-blind opportunity for talented young dancers to perform in original ballets created exclusively for them.
Dame Darcey Bussell, Patron of London Children’s Ballet, summed up the company’s mission: ‘To dance on a stage is the dream for so many young dance students. Unfortunately, few get this opportunity, which is one reason why London Children’s Ballet is so important. It gives children the chance to be part of a youth company, to be chosen for their talent regardless of shape, size or financial background.’
Ruth Brill ex-LCB dancer and First Artist with Birmingham Royal Ballet said: “I owe a lot to LCB. I developed so much as a dancer through my years dancing with them and it’s amazing to be able to come back as a choreographer 18 years later! It is thanks to them that I have become the artist I am today and it will be an honour to stage and rework Cathy Marston’s production, as it is so close to my heart.”
Ballet Shoes tells the story of the Fossil sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy. The three sisters are adopted in the 1930s by an eccentric explorer, Great Uncle Matthew who delivers them into the care of his niece and a no-nonsense housekeeper, then promptly disappears. When hard times come, the determined girls decide to seek their fortune by joining a stage school, with intentions of acting and dancing their way into the history books. This may be bliss for Pauline and Posy, but Petrova dreams only of tinkering with motor cars and flying in an aeroplane. As the little family grows up, each girl is pulled to follow her heart, learning valuable life lessons along the way.
Every year over 700 children audition to join London Children’s Ballet. The 60 children who go on to be cast in the company’s productions are given 100 hours of free ballet training culminating in the chance to perform in a professionally created ballet on a west end stage. The organisation does not discriminate on grounds of height, shape or income and dancers are selected purely on their ability. London Children’s Ballet fundraises year-round to ensure that it is able to offer its unique opportunity to all of its young dancers regardless of their circumstances. Demand for places has remained so high that a second branch of the company, LCB Touring Companies, was created in 2004 to increase the number of children able to participate and to broaden the outreach the organisation is able to achieve. Twice a year 50 additional LCB touring company dancers perform in residential homes, hospices, day centres and Special Educational Needs schools with a 30-minute tailored performance, taking ballet out into the community and ensuring an enriching experience for all involved.