A GROUP of 13 talented young ballet dancers from Swindon are preparing to take to the stage at Oxford's New Theatre after facing stiff competition in the English Youth Ballet’s auditions.

Freya Lane, Joanna Miller, Ellie Bannister, Winifred Diggens, Megan Dalton, Alexia Kuchta, Scarlet Roche, Mia Rogers, Giorgia Randell, Grace Bailey, Shenaya Shand-Horgan, Freya White and Evangeline Ralph will all appear in The Sleeping Beauty on Friday and Saturday.

The ballet will star international principal dancers Amy Drew, Adele Robbins, Monica Tapiador, Richard Read, Brenden Bratulic, Oliver Speers and Steven Wheeler.

But all of the soloist and corps de ballet roles in the production are being performed by youngsters from the local area – with 13 from Swindon making their way through the auditions held in July.

Nearly 300 young hopeful dancers turned up to the two auditions which were held on stage at the New Theatre.

Janet Lewis, director and founder of EYB, was on the lookout for the hottest young dance talent to join her award-winning company for the production with the lucky dancers hearing they had been accepted on the day.

Miss Lewis said: “EYB is all about providing extra performance experience to young dancers. We saw a very pleasing standard at the audition and it was lovely to see lots of enthusiasm.”

Principal dancer Amy Drew will be dancing the leading role of Aurora and she is training the young cast in rehearsals.

She previously danced with the Tasmanian Ballet Company and Ballet Ireland.

She said: “Rehearsals for Beauty are going very well in Oxford. I enjoy getting to know the young dancers. It is wonderful having such talented young people all in the same place and working together.

"I think that there is a unique and wonderful synergy that takes place because all the dancers learn so much from watching each other and from watching the professionals too.

"Our production of Beauty has gorgeous costumes and sets. I think that the young dancers are really excited about the costumes!"

The Sleeping Beauty will be staged at The New Theatre in Oxford on Friday, October 7, at 7.30pm and Saturday, October 8, at 2pm and 7.30pm.