A NINE-year-old dancer is to appear with the Royal Ballet in their Christmas production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

Alfie Rogers from Christchurch has been chosen to appear with the prestigious dance company for their performances at Covent Garden over the festive period.

On learning he had been selected, Alfie, a pupil at Bournemouth’s Jamie-Lee Dance Academy, said: “I still can’t believe this has happened to me and I will actually get to appear on such a beautiful stage in London and share my passion for dance with hundreds of people watching. It’s a dream come true - bring it on!”

After watching ‘Billy Elliot’ at Southampton’s Mayflower in 2017, Alfie wanted to take up tap dancing and, not long after, he set his sights on becoming a ballet dancer.

Alfie’s mum Lucy said: “His godfather, Dan, got him a pair of tap shoes and we looked at local dance schools, choosing Jamie-Lee’s Dance Academy as they offered a combined ballet and tap class. Once there, however, he immediately discovered a passion for ballet.”

A year later, he was picked out to join the Royal Ballet School Junior Associate programme, where he attends ballet classes in London every week. Having now been selected to appear on the Royal Opera House stage, the inevitable comparisons to fictional character Billy Elliot continued.

But, just like Billy Elliot, it hasn’t always been easy for Alfie who has been picked on and ridiculed for preferring ballet over his other passion, football.

To encourage him to keep on dancing, his mother had the idea of writing to British choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne, who invited Alfie to see his all-male contemporary dance company perform ‘Swan Lake’ when it came to Southampton earlier this year.

Lucy continued: “Watching Matthew Bourne’s thrilling, powerful production and meeting the dancers afterwards, showed Alfie just what can be achieved and inspired him to continue living his dream.

“Alfie now aims to be an ambassador for boys who ‘dare’ to take up classical dance. Words can’t express how proud I am of him.”

His teacher Jamie-Lee Mason adds: “I am so proud of Alfie – he came to me having had no dance training whatsoever and now, only two years later, he is performing with one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world. All the staff and students at JLDA are so proud of him, we can’t wait to see him perform.”

Alfie is currently in rehearsals with the Royal Ballet Company preparing for performances that will start on Thursday November 7 and run all the way until mid-January.

His biggest wish now is to be selected for the performance on 16th January, which is the one that will be relayed live around the country.

Alfie’s local theatre, the Regent Centre in Christchurch, will be showing this relay as an ‘encore’ evening on Sunday January 26, the day after Highcliffe Charity Players’ annual panto ends. This will mean that Alfie would get to see himself dancing on the big screen.

“Fingers, or should I say ‘toes’, crossed,” prays Lucy.