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History-making Barnsley dancer embarks on next chapter

A Barnsley ballet star - who became only the third ever British female to break through the Bolshoi Ballet Academy - is now touring the UK.

When Tala Lee-Turton, 21, took up ballet at the age of four, little did she know that 17 years later she would be making history.

It's just over a year since the ballet dancer became one of only three British females to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia, one of the most prestigious ballet schools in the world.

Soon after graduating last year, Tala went on to secure a coveted place at the Astrakhan State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

She is now one of a select group of British dancers who has made the transition from student to professional in Russia, with a job at one of the prestigious state-funded classical ballet companies

Tala has now embarked on a UK wide tour with Astrakhan at theatres across the UK, including venues in York, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Swansea and Chesterfield.

The shows are being produced by the Russian State Opera and Ballet House and Tala will perform in productions of Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet.

Tala has now embarked on a UK wide tour with Astrakhan at theatres across the UK. Credit: Johan Persson

Tala added: “I’m so excited to be given this fantastic opportunity to perform across the UK – the first time I’m performing so close to home as a professional dancer so it’s going to be extra special, particularly being able to perform in Yorkshire.

"It will be the first time that many of my friends and family will have been able to see me dance as a professional.”

Tala discovered Russian training at the age of 14 when she was coached by Chika Temma and Yury Demakov of Bristol Russian Ballet School, and from then on, she focused all her training on the audition for the Bolshoi.

Tala secured a place at the elite Moscow-based academy when she was just 16 years old in 2012.

Moving away from home and family and adapting to a new culture was a huge change for then 16-year-old Tala.

Tala has continued with the intense training regime, instilled in her at the Bolshoi, and trains ten hours a day, six days a week with weekly performances scheduled throughout the season, plus the regular tours.

She is also fluent in Russian, having spent five years with non-English speaking teachers and also sitting her academic exams in Russian.

Tala places great value on the Russian system of training. She said: “Moving so far away from home was such a big step for me but this was my ultimate dream.

"For me, the Russian system of training gave me so much. I learnt to express myself and to dance from my soul – it truly has made me the dancer I am today".

Tala places great value on the Russian system of training Credit: Christopher Sedgewick