Falkirk ballerina stars in Hansel and Gretel

Ballerina Natasha Watson is taking part in Scottish Ballet's world premiere tour of 'Hansel and Gretel'
Ballerina Natasha Watson is taking part in Scottish Ballet's world premiere tour of 'Hansel and Gretel'

Young dancer Natasha Watson has landed a dream role in the world premiere tour of a new ballet.

The 17-year-old from Newcarron is performing with Scottish Ballet in its production of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ which opened at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Wednesday.

The talented teen is the youngest to take part in the tour.

Following a four-night run in the capital, it moves to His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen from January 15-18, Eden Court Inverness from January 22-25, Theatre Royal Newcastle from January 29-February 1 and the Grand Opera House Belfast from February 5-8.

Natasha who has been having ballet lessons since she was three, initially with Stenhouse School of Dance and Central Scotland Ballet, said performing with the professional company is a dream come true.

She was given the place in the company’s winter season after winning a bronze medal at the Genée International Ballet Competiton in September. The only Scot to make the finals, it attracted more than 70 competitors from around the world.

Natasha said: “I love to dance and it is such a wonderful opportunity to be offered this secondment to Scottish Ballet. I feel very privileged.

“The professional dancers have been with the company for many years and working alongside them every day is an inspiration to me. We have ballet classes every morning and this is where we continue to work on our technique. We then rehearse in the afternoon.

“I dance en pointe all day which is challenging but it is an incredible experience and I am learning so much.”

Natasha, who is also a talented actress appearing in films and TV dramas, is currently in her first year at Ballet West in Taynuilt, near Oban, where she is training full-time in classical ballet.

She added: “At the moment I am working towards a degree. I start at 8 a.m. with a warm up and then we have ballet class every morning where we do pointe work and repertoire.

“We spend the afternoons working on a classical ballet and this year we are learning ‘Swan Lake’. There are only 26 pupils in my year, so we get a lot of individual attention enabling us to work to our full potential.”

To help with the living costs of studying away from home, Natasha receives funding from the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, a Scottish charity that supports children of Scots who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces.

Her father George was a submariner in the Royal Navy for 32 years. Sadly he died suddenly three years ago.

She said: “Without funding from the RCET, for which I am grateful, I am not sure I would have been able to continue with my studies. They have been incredibly supportive.

“Pointe shoes are the tools of my trade. They are also very expensive. Whilst rehearsing for ‘Swan Lake’ with Ballet West I use a pair every day and when performing the ballet on stage I use two pairs per show! It is a struggle to meet the cost of shoes but without them I would not be able to follow my dream of becoming a classical ballerina.”

James MacBain, RCET’s chief executive, said: “Natasha has shown determination, great courage and dedication to pursue her career as a ballerina and we are delighted and enormously proud to see the success she is achieving.”

Ballet West principal Gillian Barton praised her pupil and said: “She is an incredibly hard working and talented student who will be an asset to any company.”