The boy from Ukraine

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Ballet is a global business. Graduates of British dance schools think nothing of travelling to Europe and the United States to find work.

The annual Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland attracts competitors aged 15 to 17 from all over the world, increasingly from South-east Asia. At this year's Prix, the 34th, Sergiy Polunin (pictured below) from London's Royal Ballet School won the gold medal, and was such a hit that he was awarded the audience prize as well.

All 12 finalists at the Prix receive a scholarship for a year's training at a major ballet school; Sergiy's will pay for the final year of his three in the upper school at the Royal Ballet School (a Nureyev Foundation scholarship already pays a chunk of his pound;23,000 annual fees).

Sergiy, 16, arrived at the school from Ukraine three years ago. He began as a gymnast and went to ballet school in Kiev for four years before his father sent a videotape to White Lodge.

Now, working hard at dance six days a week and with a growing reputation, the future looks bright indeed. Already he is being tipped as the new Barishnikov or even Nureyev. The Royal Ballet School's Amanda Moxey says that children from all ethnic backgrounds are welcome at the school.

Auditions are widespread and a new partnership scheme allows children from mainstream schools to work with students from White Lodge. Information: www.royalballet

* The closeness between UK ballet schools and companies is not replicated around the world.After the Swiss competition a meeting of experts was initiated by DanceEast, the national dance dance agency for the east of England, to discuss the differing expectations. A website network is to be set up.

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