When Josh Barwick was offered the chance to try ballet he was certain it wasn’t for him.
But after just one class he was hooked and now he is enjoying his dream job with a prestigious company.
Josh was 14 when he took his first tentative steps into the world of ballet. Within a year he was offered the chance to join the Northern Ballet Academy. And two years later he was accepted into the Elmhurst School for Dance at Birmingham.
Now 20, Josh is in his first year as a dancer with the Northern Ballet after being taken on as an apprentice in 2010. He is about to perform in the Nutcracker at the Bradford Alhambra from November 8 to 12, and in Beauty and the Beast, which is premiering at Leeds Grand Theatre this Christmas.
With no family background in the performing arts Josh, who grew up in Horsforth, first became involved in dance through chance, when he was 11 and his cousin invited him along to the dance school she attended.
“I said no it’s not for me – but I had one class and started to really enjoy it,” he said. After three years of tap, jazz and drama he again overcame initial reluctance to give ballet a try – and has never looked back.
“When I got to 14 the teacher said if you want to dance at any level you should study some ballet. I thought no that’s not for me at all – but I did one class and I fell in love with it.”
Soon Josh, who was a student at Horsforth School, was pouring everything he could into ballet.
“I would do a full day at school and then rush straight off for a 4.30 class which went on until nine o’clock,” he said.
His dedication paved the way to success and now he is delighted to be back where he started.
“Northern Ballet was my dream company to join one day,” he said. “And now I am in the company, my dream has come true.”
No-one could be more proud of him than his mum Pam, who manages a fish and chip shop, and dad, Simon, who is an HGV driver.
“Every time they come to a performance my mum says she fills up,” Josh said.
“Nobody had ever danced professionally in the family at all, but all the way through school my parents said we will back you whatever you want to do.”
With cuts in funding the Northern Ballet has launched a new sponsor a dancer fundraising campaign – and Josh appears in the campaign video.
“It is quite a personal thing to me because obviously with the big funding cuts and with me being brand new I didn’t know whether I would be kept,” he said.
“The sponsor a dancer campaign is close to my heart.”
He said for £30 per year those taking part in the scheme would be able to watch the dancers rehearsing and meet them after performances, as well as receiving updates from their sponsored dancer.
Further details are available from northern ballet.com, call Jon Ingham on 0113 220 8000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.