STUDENTS at a local ballet school were chosen to perform in a professional production of The Nutcracker at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Twenty-three dancers from the Susan Robinson School of Ballet successfully auditioned to appear on stage as the party children and mice in Northern Ballet’s performance of the traditional Christmas story.

“The school has long supported the company and also enjoyed watching many performances by former pupil Hannah Bateman, who was a leading soloist,” said Cathy Lewis, one of the West Byfleet school’s Principals.

“The auditions for Nutcracker were held in July and the school was thrilled that so many children were chosen. Pippa Moore from the company taught the choreography over two days, and then the children worked extremely hard rehearsing everything from September.”

Students aged from 11 to 13-years-old took to the stage as the party children, while those playing mice in the battle scene between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King were aged between seven and 10 years.

The students even enjoyed a royal visit, as the company’s patron, Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, came on the eve of opening night to watch the rehearsal and then spoke to the cast and crew.

“Harris Beattie, who made an exceptional debut as the Nutcracker at Woking, took time to speak to the children alongside Rachael Gillespie, who danced the role of Clara, about life as a dancer in the company,” added Cathy, who said she was delighted to see Harris again as she had worked with him during the filming and launch of the Royal Academy of Dance, Grades 3 and 5.

“All the children had the most magical week, creating memories that they will treasure forever,” she said. “The whole experience was such fun for everyone involved.”