A mum is hoping to inspire young dancers who don’t quite fit the mould by appearing in a TV ballet performance with a twist.
Dance lover Emma Wilson from Liversedge was selected from more than 500 competitors to take part in Channel 4’s Big Ballet, a three part show where 18 plus size amateur dancers, mentored by choreographer Wayne Sleep, perform Swan Lake.
She said: “We want to show you can be a bit bigger and still dance.
“I am a size 14-16 so I am not overweight but I am 5ft 8ins. When I went to classes as a child I was always told I wasn’t any good and I had to stand at the back because I was too tall.
“Little girls’ dreams are being crushed by dance schools who can’t be bothered or are looking for one sort of size. It’s really unfair.”
Emma is a student at Timesteps dance school in Liversedge, and was put forward for the show by teacher Rachel Walmsley.
She said after two auditions training began at Northern Ballet in Leeds.
She said: “It was hard work. We were there on Thursday and Friday nights and Saturdays too from June to October, and a lot of us have families and full time jobs, so it was marvellous for us to achieve what we did.
“Seeing Wayne Sleep was surreal – he was one of my heroes growing up, so to meet him and have his input was fabulous.”
The training culminated in a performance at St George’s Hall, Bradford, with Emma’s husband John, daughter Alex, 10 and son Joshua, six, colleagues and friends from Timesteps in the audience.
She said: “It was a bit of a laugh to my children that their mum could dance – I don’t think they ever believed me.
“But when they saw me training and all the emotion that went with it, and they came to see the performance they were really proud. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had.
“I did a solo for the first time in 15 years – I was a bit nervous but once you get into it, it becomes second nature.
“You think of ballet dancers being stick thin, but we want to show you can be a bit bigger and still do it. We need to be an inspiration for girls who are being told they can’t dance. It doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, you can still have a go.”
Big Ballet is on Channel 4 on Thursday February 6, 13 and 20 at 9pm. Also appearing is Mirfield’s Carole Hartley.