A new TV series will see a group of plus-size dancers from Yorkshire jeté onto our screens to take on the role of a lifetime.
Big Ballet, which starts on Channel 4 on February 6, follows a troupe of curvy amateurs from across the region as they finally realise their dream of dancing Swan Lake on the big stage.
The three-part show was inspired by instructor Wayne Sleep who, after making his debut as the shortest dancer ever to appear on the Royal Ballet stage, decided he wanted to unlock the world of ballet for a wider audience, by breaking one of the biggest taboos in ballet: size.
The troupe of 16 women and two men includes Sheffield RSPCA’s general manager Stella White, a telesales rep from Rotherham, an accountant from Barnsley and an admin officer from Doncaster.
Stella, aged 31, from Stocksbridge, started ballet aged five but stopped when she was 16. At 5ft 9ins, she felt she did not meet the required ‘ballet size’ - something she hopes Big Ballet will stop other children feeling.
She told The Star: “Being able to take up ballet again has been amazing and performing felt as natural as breathing.”
The series follows the dancers through the audition process to gruelling training sessions with Wayne and prima ballerina Monica Loughman, and culminates in a performance of Swan Lake.
Stella said: “It was very, hard work but utterly fabulous! I am competitive and love a challenge, so was inspired by the hard work and passion. ”
Ballet dancers are typically a UK size six to eight and the Big Ballet team members range from a size 12 to 26, something Stella hopes will have a positive impact on young people watching the show.
She said: “I hope girls thinking about doing ballet, or thinking about quitting, are inspired by this show and not be put off by stereotypes.”
Big Ballet airs at 9pm next Thursday.