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Three dancers in bunny costumes. Looks of excitement and joy

Interview with Academy Graduate, Tobey I'anson

Ahead of the our children's ballet Tortoise & the Hare coming to Leeds next month, we spoke to dancer and Professional Graduate Programme student Tobey I'anson who plays Hare to find out more about the show and his preparations so far.

Black and White Photo of Graduate Student Tobey I'anson in a Classical, Balletic Pose

What do you think children will enjoy most about Tortoise & the Hare?

The music is really upbeat, and the characters are really lively and engaging. There’s a lot of humour in it, which is all tied together by really fun choreography which I think the children will enjoy.

Why do you think it’s important to introduce children and families to ballet?

It is a really beautiful artform, but a lot of the big classics are not great entry level works for children or for people who don’t have much experience with ballet. The length of a lot of the famous works and lack of speech can make it really hard for children to get interested in ballet, so I think the children’s ballet is such a great way to get kids interested in art on the stage.

Can you tell us about your experience on the Professional Graduate Programme so far?

It has been such a great experience; I feel like I have improved so much already. The teaching staff offer such great insight into the professional world, and they are doing an amazing job at helping us prepare for auditions. It has also been a really exciting experience working so closely with the company, even just sharing a space with them has allowed us to learn so much from them.

Which productions are you looking forward to performing in this season?

The one I am most looking forward to, and the one I have the most involvement with, is Tortoise & the Hare. As a student it is such a good learning experience because the cast is so small, so we have a lot more responsibility than we would usually have in a company production. Also being able to get a taste of what it is like to tour a production is something I'm excited for.

Can you talk us through a typical day in the life of a Graduate student?

Every day we start with our ballet class, which is when we really get to focus on ourselves and improve our technique. It’s also just a good setup for the day to come. Typically, we will then have either a rep class or variations in preparations for auditions, however recently we have been focusing on the material for Tortoise & the Hare. After lunch we will have lessons like contemporary, or a second ballet class, followed by attending rehearsals with the company in the evening.

Dancers dressed as bunnies. One dancer checking another dancers leg, middle dancer holding two carrot stick pom poms, another dancer gazing in adoration and the last dancer meditating
Three dancers in bunny costumes. Looks of excitement and joy
Dancer in a Bee Costume, Piqué pose to the left

Tortoise & the Hare

Our children’s ballets are the perfect introduction to live music and ballet. With an enchanting story, vibrant costumes and fun characters to enjoy, don't miss Tobey in Tortoise & the Hare this spring at venues across the UK.

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Find out more about the Professional Graduate Programme

The Professional Graduate Programme is a one-year traineeship that bridges the gap between full-time training and a performance career. Find out more about the Academy of Northern Ballet’s Professional Graduate Programme here.

Photos Sophie Beth Jones and Declan Slattery.

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