A ballet dancer from Lincoln has successfully pursued her dream of becoming a professional, overcoming a broken back and the pandemic to do so.
Ella Slingsby, 20, has been a dancer since the age of three, and her 17-year passion has landed her a place as a professional at the National Opera & Ballet Theatre Oleg Danovski in Romania.
The journey has seen her graduate from the Central School of Ballet in London, a prestigious school that is the only one in England to offer unique ballet-focused qualifications.
The Lincolnite wrote about Ella being accepted into the Central School of Ballet back in 2018, and she has come a long way since starting at Sandy Gray School of Dance & Theatre at just three-years-old.
It hasn’t come without its obstacles, though, as Ella’s dream appeared to be in turmoil in 2019 when she suffered a stress fracture on her back.
This left her unable to dance for four months, unable to move her back for most of it, and unable to train for upcoming auditions.
“It just happened at the worst time, it was definitely the hardest time of my life,” Ella told The Lincolnite.
“There were doubts about whether I could recover for my auditions, then I got more pain when I restarted dancing again as I hadn’t done it in so long.
“It felt amazing to get through it, and all the hard work and difficulties made the reward more fulfilling.”
As if that wasn’t enough, when Ella overcame the odds and secured a place in Romania, just one of two girls in her class at the Central School of Ballet, London to receive a contract from her graduating year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“COVID was really difficult, it was on and off and there were times I was having to stay at home for months on end.
“Thankfully now it’s looking more positive, so many people in the industry lost their jobs because of the pandemic and I’m very thankful to have kept mine.
“Although it was a horrible time, the setbacks made me stronger. It feels really surreal to be living in Romania doing what I love for a living.”
Ella’s progress saw her recently premiere The Prince & The Pauper on stage, her first show back in front of an audience for a year.
Ella is about to finish her debut season as a professional dancer, and will return home to Lincolnshire for the first time in six months before going back to Romania in August for her second season.
The hard work doesn’t stop for Ella, who is used to training intensely for up to five hours a day, and she is aware of the danger of injury.
“The most difficult part of this job is the high risk of injury, it’s a physical job, so when you get an injury there’s nothing you can do.
“I just love performing, when I see an audience it gives me so much joy and happiness, it’s an unexplainable feeling.
“I’ve always loved to be on stage, so if I can carry on doing this and see where it takes me, then I will be happy, as ultimately I just want to love what I am doing, which I am.”
She has set up a YouTube channel documenting her journey and inviting people into her everyday world as a pro ballet dancer.