19 MAY 2004

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Prince Charles has been meeting some of the future stars of British dance during a visit to London's renowned Royal Ballet School. And he was delighted to hear that a recent movie in which the institution featured has made life a lot easier for the boys training there.

"Billy Elliot has made a huge impact," explained spokeswoman Amanda Moxey. "It has taken ballet into the masses and shown it as acceptable to boys. It is now a 50-50 split whereas previously it was 70-30 in favour of girls."

The lads currently going through their paces at the academy seemed to fully agree. "The film stopped people at my old school picking on me," said 13-year-old Matthew Broadbent, from Birmingham. "Now they know what we have to go through."

Tuesday marked Charles' first visit to the Royal Ballet School since he succeeded Princess Margaret as its president. But the Prince of Wales hadn't quite mastered the dance form himself, as became clear when he stood in a line-up of the young performers. "Spot the one who is standing in the wrong position," he joked. "I haven't done my exercises."


The Prince of Wales chats with a group of students after a class in the Richmond Park academy. He spent several hours watching performances and talking to the aspiring dancers
Photo: AFP
Click on photos to enlarge

The school offers an eight-year dance training course, alongside a full academic programme
Photo: AFP


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