Ballet legend to join masterclass

Dame Beryl Grey - legendary ballerina
Dame Beryl Grey - legendary ballerina

Young dancers will relish the chance to meet one of the greats of British Ballet this weekend.

Dame Beryl Grey DBE, the distinguished former prima ballerina, President of the English National Ballet and Patron of the Sussex Opera and Ballet Society will be guest of honour at the Birley Centre on Sunday May 17 at 2.30pm, when she joins the audience for a ballet masterclass with Paul Lewis, teacher at the Royal Ballet School.

Working with young dancers, Paul will highlight the hard work and dedication needed to become a professional dancer and demonstrate the challenges they face when preparing for stage roles, something someone with such a long and exciting career as Dame Beryl can certainly relate to.

She began dancing when she was four and successfully auditioned for a scholarship at Sadler’s Wells when she was 10. Watching Dame Margot Fonteyn as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, she dreamed of stepping into her shoes one day. The opportunity came soon after when Fonteyn was taken ill and Ninette de Valois called upon her to dance Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

She was just 14 and became known as the Baby Ballerina. A glittering career ensued during which she became the first ballerina to dance with the Kirov and Bolshoi companies and was honoured for her services to dance in 1988, when she was made a Dame of the British Empire.

She danced in all the great roles and had some created especially for her by Robert Helpmann and Frederick Ashton.

Paul’s master class promises to be an enthralling and entertaining afternoon. It will be a unique opportunity for ballet lovers and aspiring young dancers to look behind the scenes of that magical world of ballet in the hands of a master and in the presence of ballet royalty.

Tickets £15 (EASCS/SOBS members £13).

All children free with an accompanying adult, but the event most suitable for those aged 11+

Available from Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre, www.eastbourneartscircle.org.uk or on the door.