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Barnsley ballerina Tala Lee Turton dances on Bolshoi stage

Tala Lee Turton Image copyright Barnsley Chronicle/Tala Lee Turton
Image caption Tala started dancing at her local dance school in Barnsley when she was aged four

A Barnsley ballerina has achieved her dream of performing on the world famous Bolshoi Ballet Theatre stage.

Tala Lee Turton is only the ninth British dancer to be given a place at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Now three years into her four-year placement, the 19-year-old has earned the privilege of performing at the internationally-famed Bolshoi Theatre.

She said: "It was incredible. Finding my name on the back of the dressing room door was a dream come true."

The teenager has lived and breathed ballet since she was a youngster and her ambitions to be the best have meant sacrifices and following a strict regime.

Image copyright Tala Lee Turton
Image caption The Russian style of training focuses a lot on flexibility
Image copyright Tala Lee Turton
Image caption Tala made her debut on the Bolshoi Theatre stage in March when she danced a variation from Le Corsaire

At the academy her weekly timetable is made up of classes in gymnastics, character, historical dance, make-up, modern dance, acting, repertoire and pointe work - the act of standing on the tips of the toes.

Also slotted in are Russian language and other academic classes.

"Ballet is such a perfectionist world," Tala said.

"You're constantly criticised for the way you look. Teachers look at you objectively and tell you you need to lose this muscle, or slim down, so you have to be thick-skinned.

"There is so much training involved and I don't think a lot of people realise how much repetition there is.

"You are hammering something out in the studio for a long time before it looks beautiful on stage."

Image copyright Tala Lee Turton
Image caption Any spare time Tala has is taken up with extra practice, rehearsals, stretching, competitions and summer schools
Image copyright Tala Lee Turton
Image caption Stretching is important in developing the core strength and flexibility of a ballet dancer

Tala's dancing dedication has led to experiencing moments she never imagined.

One highlight was watching her favourite dancer, prima ballerina Evgenia Obratsova, performing in the prestigious gala Ballet Stars of the 21st Century.

She has also trained with teachers from the best ballet companies worldwide such as the New York City Ballet and the English National Ballet.

Currently back home in Barnsley on her summer break, Tala is hoping to inspire other young dancers by holding a series of master classes at her first dance school, Fearons Middleton School of Dance in Barnsley.

She said: "I owe a lot to my old teachers Miss Catherine and Miss Hayley who set me off on this wonderful journey so many years ago."

When she returns to the academy in September, Tala will begin her final year before becoming the third female British ballerina to graduate.

Image copyright Nicola Selby Photography
Image caption There is a height and weight chart in the contract that dancers joining the academy have to sign
Image copyright Eduard Maydanik
Image caption One of the perks of being at the academy is being able to get cheap student tickets to watch performances at the Bolshoi

Much of her fourth year will be spent travelling across Europe for auditions in the hope of joining a ballet company.

"I'd love to join one of the big companies like the Royal Ballet or the Dutch National but it's tough and if you get in you have to work your way through the ranks, so I'd be just as happy to get in with a smaller company."

Her ultimate dream is to dance the role of Odette in the ballet classic Swan Lake.

"That is the holy grail for any ballerina."

She added: "I've fought my way to the Bolshoi so I'm going to continue fighting to pursue my dreams."

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