Talented Leeds dancer wins major scholarship

Max Cookward.

Max Cookward.

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HE’S Chapel Allerton’s answer to Billy Elliot.

Talented dancer Max Cookward has won a full scholarship to a top ballet school.

The youngster has a place at Elmhurst School for Dance near Birmingham, the first step of training to become a professional dancer.

The 12-year-old impressed heads at the residential school, which is associated with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Max, from Chapel Allerton, Leeds, said: “I was a bit shocked as I didn’t even have to do a second audition.

“I am really excited.”

The youngster discovered a love of performing after taking part in musical theatre productions and then decided he liked the dance element.

Two years ago he won a place at Northern Ballet’s Centre for Advanced Training, a programme for young people working towards a career in dance which is an alternative to full-time training.

Max has been attending sessions there five times a week after school, at weekends and during holidays and said he “loved” it.

But he then decided he wanted to audition for a full-time training school and was delighted to be accepted.

“I am going to miss my family but I get to see them at weekends,” he said.

“It’s a compromise but it’s a compromise worth making.”

The former pupil at Allerton Grange School ultimately aims to dance with Northern Ballet, the prestigious Rambert company or the English National Ballet.

Hannah Kirkpatrick, Northern Ballet’s academy manager, said: “Max has been training to a really high standard already and he has got lots of talent.

“As much as we are really sad to see him go, it will be a good school for him. He has said he will come back for summer and Easter courses and we will hold him to that.

“We are really proud of him and think he will have a brilliant time there.”

His family, mums Steph Ward and Sharron Cook, and brothers Dan, 16, and Lyall, two, said they were delighted at his success.

Steph added: “He has worked so hard and been so determined to follow his dream and we are fully behind him. We’re very very proud, although we will miss him loads.”

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