Cleo's big opportunity

Cleo
Cleo

A young Arundel dancer is relishing the chance to work with the prestigious National Youth Ballet.

15-year-old Cleo Badcock will be taking part in a memorial gala performance on Sunday, September 4, at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London at 7.30pm (020 7863 8000). The memorial celebrates the work and legacy of company founder and artistic director Jill Tookey who died in March this year.

Over three decades, Jill Tookey quietly became one of the industry’s most influential dance leaders, inspiring generations of young dancers and choreographers, many of whom have embarked upon successful professional careers after their time with NYB. Jill was appointed a CBE for services to dance in the 2016 New Year Honours.

Cleo is delighted to continue Jill’s work.

“I know a few people who have done it before, and they suggested I do it,” Cleo said. “I auditioned in January and then I got a letter saying I had got through to the final auditions in April. I did a few pieces from the choreographers for that – and I got through. I got a big information pack through detailing what dances I am in and what I am going to have to do.”

And then it was into ten days of rehearsals: “We have been doing it all day every day, but it has been brilliant. I love the dances I am in, and it is great fun. I am in Ruth Armstrong’s Swing Time and also in The Tribute. Swing Time is swing-style 1930s New York, and there are about 20 dancers in the piece. It is interesting because it is all different sections, and the music is so diverse you get to do different styles. At the moment, we are rehearsing The Tribute separately, and I am guessing we are going to put it all together later.”

It’s all fantastic experience for Cleo: “I am one of those people that started dancing when they were two or three, and then when I was 11 or 12 I started taking more and more classes. I dance six days a week now. The difficulty is fitting in the homework!

“But I can express myself when I am dancing in ways that I can’t when I am just walking or talking. I can use different parts of my body. I don’t know how to put it into words really, but it is like I am in a different world when I am dancing, when the lights are on and you can’t really see the audience.

“I suppose it depends on the setting or the piece, but I don’t really get nervous. I am not a wreck. But it is always good to have a few nerves. I guess it focuses you more. It turns you on more to what you are doing.”

Cleo is hoping to audition for vocational schools – and she would love to think her future lies in dancing.

She knows a lot of hard work lies ahead and that she will need to be tough and determined: “You have to accept that you might not get the dance or the company that you want, and you have to cope with that.”