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Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009
National award for dancer Sillis
Martin Barber (Photo by Richard Pickavance)
By Martin Barber
BBC Norfolk

Aaron holds his Breakthrough Award trophy
Aaron wins The Times/South Bank Show Breakthrough Award 2009

Aaron Sillis, a dancer from Drayton near Norwich, is named as the winner of the prestigious The Times/South Bank Show Breakthrough Award 2009.

It comes from his acclaimed performance in Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray, based on the classic novel by Oscar Wilde.

"It's amazing, I was overwhelmed. I didn't have a clue that I was going to win and didn't have a speech prepared," said 25-year-old Aaron.

The winner of the Breakthrough Award is selected by public vote.

Shining stars

The awards ceremony, held at the Dorchester on Park Lane in January 2009, was a night where the stars were shining. Aaron's category was presented by actor Michael Sheen.

"When he started talking about the award, my heart started beating faster and faster. I thought 'I've got a one in 10 chance of winning this'," said Aaron.

The Times Breakthrough Award nominees 2009
Breakthrough Award nominees Ed from Friendly Fires, Anna Meredith and Rose Heiney with Aaron (right) at the Dorchester
Opera: Allan Clayton
Dance: Aaron Sillis
Rock/Pop music: Friendly Fires
Visual art: Ryan Gander
Comedy: Rhod Gilbert
Theatre: Rupert Goold
Literature: Rose Heiney
Film: Steve McQueen
Classical music: Anna Meredith
TV drama: Andrea Riseborough

"I was thinking I must not look too disappointed when I don't win, as the cameras were getting ready to pounce, but then Michael's speech started talking about people like Kylie and Mariah Carey who I've worked with.

"I was looking around the table thinking, 'Surely none of these people have worked with them?' It suddenly dawned on me that I'd won.

"I started to freak-out and my hands were shaking under the table.

"I was taking a lot of deep breaths as the cameras turned on me. I was led to the stage and then, to be honest, it's all a bit blurry.

"I was staring at the crowd, looking at the celebrity audience, thinking 'God, I've got to say something'. I didn't have a clue what to say, so I just kept it short and said 'Thank you'."

The Norfolk vote

Aaron is delighted to be bringing the public vote award back to Norfolk. He feels he couldn't have done it without the help of people in the county.

"I think the Norfolk people got behind me and put their votes in and I'm really grateful for that. Thank you everyone who voted, it's amazing," said Aaron.

"I know there were people in America and as far flung away as Japan voting for me. It was great that everyone was really going for it," he added.

New adventures

Aaron's career path started at just 12 years old, treading the boards in panto at the Norwich Theatre Royal. He then trained at the Central School Of Dancing in Norwich and at the Bird College in Sidcup before joining Matthew Bourne's New Adventures.

He's now been dancing professionally for seven years with some of the biggest names in show business, including Kylie and Take That.

Aaron's delighted that it's for his work in dance theatre for which he was nominated an award.

Aaron Sillis (left) as Basil Hallward and Richard Winsor as Dorian Gray
Aaron Sillis (left) as Basil Hallward and Richard Winsor as Dorian Gray

"It's great that this area of dancing is what gets the recognition and it's really nice that it was in Matthew's show," he said.

"It was such a fantastic part for me and I had role in creating it, so it all feels really worthwhile," he added.

Delight at success

Choreographer Matthew Bourne is delighted at Aaron's success.

"Everyone is very happy for him. It was his first leading role in the company, dancing a role that was created for him and performing with the company's stars Richard Winsor and Michela Meazza, who have much more experience than him," said Matthew.

"For Aaron, and for dance, to be recognised in this way is wonderful.

"It's great for him and great for the company. We're hoping to do Dorian Gray again this year with the original cast, so I'm hoping Aaron will do it again, but maybe he'll be too expensive now!

"Everyone is so happy for Aaron and thrilled he's gained this recognition."

In addition to winning The Times/South Bank Show Breakthrough Award, Aaron was also nominated in the National Dance Awards for The Spotlight Award: Male Dancer (Modern), once again for his performance in Dorian Gray.

Dorian Gray is touring the UK and Europe until November 2009.



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