Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Ballet Dream Come True For Local Dance Talent
With well-loved ballet Cinderella being staged with its highly trained professionals, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) came up with an idea to give amateur talent the chance to go to the ball too.
Pamela Hawkins stars in Cinderella Dreams. Photo Paul Telfer.
Cinderella Dreams is a fringe, dance production by BRB that is bringing together talented dancers from across the region who range from the tender age of eight to the mature ballerina of 76.
This new production adapts David Bintley's classic choreography from BRB's Cinderella and Sergei Prokofiev's romantic soundtrack to create a vibrant, different version.
Cinderella Dreams premieres at Birmingham Hippodrome on February 20 at 7pm after six months of intensive training and rehearsals to develop the cast of 65 dancers.
Rehearsals for Cinderella Dreams. Photo Paul Telfer
These dancers were handpicked from more than 150 hopefuls, who took part in open auditions in front of former BRB dancers Rachel Hester and Jenny Murphy in September last year.
The role of Cinderella will be danced by 12-year-old Pamela Hawkins, while 76-year-old Ilona Johnson-Gibbs fulfils her lifelong ambition to become a ballet dancer by starring as The Fairy Godmother.
Pamela, who began dancing at the age of four with the Sharon Green Dance Academy in Bodicote, Oxfordshire, says: "Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved the story of Cinderella. So being asked to dance this role in my first ever full-length ballet is truly amazing."
Young Pamela with fairy godmother Ilona. Photo Paul Telfer
"Cinderella Dreams is the highlight of my week. I can't wait for Thursdays when I travel up to Birmingham with my mum or dad to the rehearsals. It's the most exciting thing I've ever been part of."
Fairy godmother dancer Ilona has reignited a love with dancing after a fall at work. That was when she rediscovered the health and fitness benefits of pulling on ballet shoes again - despite an absence of 60 years.
In a life filled with many years as a model for titles including fashion magazine Vogue, a further career as a fine art dealer and then motherhood, Ilona now makes her grand ballet debut.
IIona Johnson Gibbs in her modelling days. Photo JohnColeStudioFive.co.uk
The project has been developed with the Department for Learning at BRB under the watchful eye of Project Manager, Rebecca Brookes.
Cinderella Dreams has been an inspirational project for all involved," explains Rebecca, "we have been fortunate enough to work with such a wealth of talent from across the Midlands and whilst it has been challenging, it's also extremely rewarding to see the benefits that it brings to the lives of all involved."
The performance of Cinderella Dreams is supported by Birmingham Hippodrome.
Members of the amateur cast rehearsing for Cinderella Dreams. Photo Paul Telfer