Plus-size dancers have been training with Wayne Sleep for a new TV programme culminating in a ‘big ballet’ performance of Swan Lake in Bradford.
The series, starting tonight, follows a troupe of amateur dancers, including one from Bradford, who dream of appearing in a classical ballet.
Filming for the show, called Big Ballet, took place at Bradford Theatres, with the final performances at St George’s Hall. Music was played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.
Viewers will see the dancers trained by dance legend Wayne Sleep, who aims to bring ballet to a wider audience and break one of its biggest taboos – size.
Wayne and prima ballerina Monica Loughman whittled down 200 hopefuls to form their own plus-size ballet company and had five months to train them before the curtain rose for Swan Lake.
While ballet dancers are typically size six to eight, the Big Ballet dancers range from size 12 to size 26.
The dancers taking part include Raj Parmar, 33, events and marketing director on Bradford’s Sunrise Radio and founder of Bollywood dance group Spice Entertainment, who was one of 18 people, and one of only two men, selected from auditions.
As a Bollywood dancer, he has performed at and choreographed live shows and music videos, including events for major Asian film stars.
He said: “I saw this (Big Ballet) as an opportunity for personal development and to try ballet, which is not showcased to the Asian community.
“Being a guy and a dancer is frowned upon, unless you do breakdancing or hip hop, then it’s cool.
“I would like to see more people engage in ballet. I don’t think people realise the amount of fitness and dedication required for it. I was drenched in sweat after 20 minutes! It’s hard work!”
Others taking part in the show include a primary school teacher from Liversedge and a customer services manager from Mirfield.
* Big Ballet starts tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.