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Northumberland teenager accepted into Bolshoi Academy

Rachel Armstrong has been accepted into the Bolshoi Academy. Photo: ITV News

A teenager from Northumberland has taken a big step towards achieving her dream of becoming a leading ballerina. Rachel Armstrong, from Stocksfield, has been thrown into the demanding world of the Bolshoi in Moscow.

She is only the 7th person from the UK to be accepted into the Bolshoi Academy, in the last hundred years.

She's never been to Russia before, and doesn't yet speak the language. Her life in Moscow is just beginning - as she takes up a rare and prestigious opportunity.

Rachel Armstrong has been participating in one of her first classes at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. The internationally-renowned company is among the oldest in the world, and only three dancers from the UK have graduated.

Its high standards produce exceptional classical ballet dancers. For this 17- year-old the experience is both exhilarating and intimidating.

It's really exciting, the atmosphere is amazing, everybody works really hard and the standard is extremely high.

It's very hard to get abreast with the technique because it is very different to my style in England.

Hopefully I will get there soon and also because everybody speaks Russian it is quite hard to understand what they are saying.

– Rachel Armstrong

At just six years old, Rachel was already in a tutu, and held an ambition to become a professional ballet dancer and to join the Bolshoi.

Her parents, who are both headteachers, say that their daughter's achievement is unbelievable.

Just incredibly proud of her, but obviously I miss her and I will miss her and she has done so well to do that I'm just absolutely over the moon because this is what she wanted from a very early age.

– Lisa Armstrong, Rachel's mother

Hilda Affleck taught Rachel at her studio in Gateshead for around six years, and helped her with her audition video for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

She always puts her heart and soul into everything she does, she's worked really hard to get this getting up at five in the morning each day working very hard with me.

– Hilda Afflek, Rachel's ballet teacher
Rachel's toy rabbit in her dorm. Credit: ITV News

Rachel is still settling in, but a few home comforts are helping, such as her toy rabbit. She'll spend the next three years in Russia, dancing every day, hoping to realise her dancing dream.

Watch Julie Harrison's report: