Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 16:41 UK

UK ballerina lands Bolshoi place

Natalie Carter
Natalie took up ballet at the age of nine

A 16-year-old British ballet dancer said she is "excited but terrified" at being offered a place at the elite Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia.

Natalie Carter from Watford, who took up ballet aged nine, is only the fifth British dancer to be given a place at the Moscow school.

She was spotted by a former Bolshoi dancer performing at the Gypsy Booth dance school in Watford.

Svetlana Adyrkhaeva asked her to send an audition tape.

She was taking a masterclass at the school when she spotted Natalie's natural talent.

Natalie had already been accepted to a London ballet school when she was offered the year-long place at the Bolshoi.

"I was initially shocked and I felt really, really awful," Natalie told BBC Radio 4. "I had been offered a place at Central Ballet School and I was so excited to go there and move to London and be there with all my friends.

"But then I got this email to say I was going to be moving to Russia, which is a bit of a difference! It was incredible, but I was in bits and bawling my eyes out."

Natalie can expect 40 hours a week of intensive ballet class when she moves to Moscow at the end of the month.

Russian lessons

"I imagine the training will be very strict, but if I listen to them and do exactly as they tell me I should be completely fine," Natalie said.

"I have been taught by Russian teachers before so it is not going to be completely new to me."

"I'll be taught in French, all the dance movements will be in French, but corrections and when they tell me to do something will all be in Russian.

"I have never, ever spoken Russian before in my life, but I get two hour language lessons a day and hopefully I'll pick it up quickly."

Natalie's mother, Sue, sent out thousands of letters to local businesses and charities seeking sponsorship to help meet her daughter's fees.

Natalie added: "I've been very lucky. My mother sent out thousands upon thousands of letters and I have been really lucky to receive so many donations from charities and sponsors.

"It has all helped so much, the money has been put towards fees, my ballet shoes, my leotards, there is so much to pay for."

Hampshire teenager Henry Perkins is set to be the first British dancer to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy next summer after four years of training.

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