Ballet starlet Sophie en pointe to land Nutcracker role on big stage
A young ballerina has paid tribute to her teacher after being cherry-picked to perform in a national ballet show.
Sophie McGowan, 11, will light up a London stage as a party girl and a rat in the English National Ballet Company production of The Nutcracker.
Sophie boards at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts during the week.
But rather than let any of her success go to her head, the down-to-earth youngster reserved special mention for her first teacher after landing her London role.
Sophie said she will forever be thankful for the pointers from her first teacher Gabrielle Butler, who now runs a dance school in Brackley.
Sophie said: “She is really good – I love her.
“When you are stuck, she will help you and go through it. She’s a really good teacher.
“My friends are really excited and I think some are coming to watch me.”
Sophie told her mum Emma, 42, she wanted to be a ballerina as soon as she could speak.
But Emma has been amazed by Sophie’s drive and will proudly watch the show with husband Harry, 43, and Sophie’s sisters Martha, nine, Flora and Isla, both seven.
“I’ve been gobsmacked by her determination,” Emma said.
“Her focus is extraordinary.
“People say is it nature or nurture? But it’s definitely about hours in the studio.
“If it wasn’t for Gabrielle, Sophie wouldn’t be where she is now.
“She’s a phenomenal teacher.”
Mrs Butler was full of praise from her former protege. She said: “You could tell she was good from the start but she has worked very hard.
“It’s very rewarding to see the children I have had for a number of years go into the big shows.”
The Nutcracker is at the London Coliseum from December 11 until December 20.