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BOLSHOI BILLY; British teen to train with top company.

Byline: By GRAHAM BROUGH

TALENTED teenager Henry Perkins is jumping for joy after being offered a chance to train with the Bolshoi Ballet.

Henry, 15, who relishes becoming a real-life Billy Elliot, is only the second British lad in 200 years invited over by Russia's famous company.

For Henry it is a dream come true after watching Bolshoi dancer Rudolf Nureyev as a child.

Henry, who has just finished his first lead role as the Scarlet Pimpernel at Sadler's Wells, showed his talent early when he was picked for a production of Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House, aged just nine.

He said yesterday: "I was over the moon when I had got a place. Ever since I heard of the Bolshoi I wanted to go abroad for the best training.

"Hopefully this will be my dream pass to joining the company. If I did that I would be the first foreigner to do so. Then I'd aim to come back here and join a company as a principal.

"Russia is going to be quite a challenge but the training is better over there and I will have just one teacher until I am 19. I got this wonderful opportunity because my teacher is Evgeny Goremykin, a former principal of the Bolshoi school. He recommended me which is the only way a foreigner can be accepted.

"I flew to Moscow for an audition and two days later I was in."

Henry, who trains five days a week at Goremykin's studios in Clapham, South London, added: "I saw some kids in a panto when I was little and decided I wanted to be on the stage. Ballet takes up such a big part of my life I don't have much time for anything else if I want to be the best." But unlike the family of the fictional Billy Elliot, horrified son wanted to be a dancer, Henry's folks are behind him all the way.

Brother Adam, 17, said: "We are very proud. When he wanted to be a dancer we all thought he'd grow out of it, but his teacher said he had talent."

Henry's dad Stephen added: "He is a normal boy who loves computer games. Nobody else has any dance skills, we all have two left feet."

But ambitious Henry, of Yately, Hants, faces two awesome obstacles.

He hardly speaks a word of Russian - the language his teachers will use to correct his moves. But he smiled: "I have started lessons."

Secondly the family will have to raise pounds 50,000 to fund his fees. Mum Sue has already sent dozens of letters to charities to raise the cash.

When he arrives in Moscow, Henry will be greeted by a friend - a former student at Goremykin's studio.

Ralf Pickering, 14 - the only other Brit accepted for training at the Bolshoi - joined last year.

The 2000 hit film Billy Elliot told the touching story of a boy from a mining family who rose to be a ballet star.

g.brough@mirror.co.uk

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TWIRL BEATER: Henry shows off his talent
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2006
Words:514
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