One of the most famous ballets of all time, The Nutcracker, is being performed at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, next week, with Portsmouth born and bred dancer, Julianne Rice-Oxley, 45, playing the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Primarily performed in the Christmas season, Julianne will be joined in the production by over 100 dancers from across Hampshire, with 42 handpicked from the city.
Having been with the English Youth Ballet as a principle dancer for 10 years, she especially looks forward to her hometown visits.
She says: ‘This week I was in Portsmouth for rehearsals but before that I hadn’t been down since Christmas, which is ridiculous considering it’s only about two hours drive from where I live.
‘It’s quite nice to be working down there. Last weekend I stayed with mum and dad, and it was nice to catch up with them.’
After studying at the Arts Educational School London, Julianne went on to work professionally across the world, with ballet companies such as the Vienna Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet and the Lisbon National Ballet.
She adds: ‘I’d worked for Janet Lewis (director of English Youth Ballet) some years ago in the early Nineties with her company that was then called the Lewis London Ballet. I always stayed in touch, and then the chance to work with her again came up.’
Since then Julianne has loved working with the company, who audition for young dancers in the town/city they perform in.
But this isn’t the first time she’s visited Portsmouth with the group, and performed at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, in Sleeping Beauty in 2007.
Julianne explains: ‘What is nice is that my gran who is 104 is coming to see the matinee, and I have a lot of other family coming to see it. When my gran was 100 the theatre was also celebrating being 100 years old.
‘It went in the paper then because we had a performance of Sleeping Beauty on her birthday. She loves going to the theatre, really loves it.’
With more ballet dancers retiring in their late twenties or early thirties, Julianne isn’t too worried about her recent birthday.
She adds: ‘I didn’t notice the years had gone by really. I must be stuck in a time warp.’
Tickets cost £16 to £20 from the Kings Theatre, Southsea, on (023) 9282 8282 or visit kings-southsea.com.