By Matilda Gladwell
A 10-year-old boy from Hurst Green is currently performing at The Royal Opera House as part of The Royal Ballet’s staging of Don Quixote.
Sebastian Whitlock, who attends Holland Junior School in Oxted, has always had a passion for dance, particularly ballet, and says his favourite part of performing is “learning how to do big jumps, leaps and pirouettes”.
Having attended ballet classes since he was five years old, one of Sebastian’s ballet teachers suggested he auditioned for The Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associates Programme.
He successfully secured a place and, since starting in September 2022, Sebastian has performed with The Royal Ballet in Cinderella and now plays the altar boy and one of the two rascals in the third act of Don Quixote.
Directed by acclaimed dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta, the Royal Opera House’s production of Cervantes’ classic tale is full of wit, romance and bravura (daring or technical) choreography. Preparation for Sebastian’s performance included two weeks of rehearsals in the studio, followed by two days of stage rehearsals at the Royal Opera House, with the rest of the cast.
“Sebastian has been working very hard in his Junior Associate classes,” said Victoria Collinson, the Junior Associate Programme artistic manager. “Performing in Don Quixote with The Royal Ballet is an invaluable and inspirational experience for him as a young dancer.”
Sebastian says he is thankful for the chance to appear on the Royal Opera House stage.
“When I’m on stage, I feel happy and so grateful that I am performing with such famous dancers.”
Sebastian’s ballet ambitions don’t end there: next year, he will be auditioning for a full-time place at a ballet school, with his first choice being White Lodge, The Royal Ballet School’s Lower School, in Richmond. This will help him to pursue ballet at a higher level in the future:
“My dream is to be the black swan in Swan Lake and be a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet.”