Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Dirty Dancer wins ballet award

Martin Harvey in Dirty Dancing
Martin Harvey swapped ballet for mambo in September 2008

Martin Harvey, who stars in the stage musical Dirty Dancing, has won a major award for classical ballet.

The Critics' Circle gave him this year's Spotlight Best Male Dancer Classical Award in recognition of his ballet dancing career.

The performer plays the role of Johnny Castle which was made famous by Patrick Swayze in the 1987 film.

He had previously spent 11 years with The Royal Ballet, and his move to theatre surprised the dance world.

The stage star said he was "delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious award", adding that he had enjoyed "the most amazing 11 years with the Royal Ballet".

Direction change

Harvey was First Soloist at The Royal Ballet where he danced principal roles in classical works including Romeo and Juliet, Mayerling, Manon and La Fille Mal Gardee.

He had taken acting classes for several years, but the role of Johnny Castle was the first one for which he auditioned.

He was on tour in China with The Royal Ballet when he got the call offering him the part.

"Taking the role of such an iconic and inspirational character as Johnny Castle is a genuine thrill," said the dancer at the time, who admitted his ambition was to star in a West End musical.

He saw off strong competition from his former colleague Eric Underwood of The Royal Ballet and from the English National Ballet's Esteban Berlanga to take the award.

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