They became overnight stars when they appeared in the hit TV show, Big Ballet.

And now the three plus-sized dancers from our region are leaping for joy after their success goes global.

Mirfield resident Carol Hartley said that she and fellow local dancers Claire O’Connor and Emma Wilson were ‘shocked’ to learn that the three part programme has started airing in the USA, after being bought by a television channel.

It is the latest boost for the talented trio, whose show has also been nominated to win a gong in the national TV Choice awards, thanks to its success in challenging attitudes to size within the dance industry.

Carol said that she was now getting messages of thanks from across the ocean, as people became inspired after tuning in to watch the series which started on arts channel Ovation TV on May 28.

The popular series, which was aired on Channel 4 in February, followed the journey of a group of 18 plus-sized women who were trained to perform Swan Lake by Wayne Sleep, to prove that size was no barrier to being able to dance.

Big Ballet mentors Wayne Sleep and Monica Loughman.
Big Ballet mentors Wayne Sleep and Monica Loughman.
 

Carol, 40, who used to be a dancer until she was 21 and now works as a customer services manager at Camira Fabrics, said: “I don’t think that any of us could have imagined that the show would be broadcast in the USA or that we would be in with a chance of winning a TV award.

“We thought that the concept may get copied but never thought that they would want to show a group of Yorkshire women doing ballet in the USA.

“The response from US viewers has been very humbling and I think people may have even been more excited about it than here. A lot of people there love ballet and they’ve got in touch to tell us stories about how they had given up their dancing dream because they weren’t the same size as others.

“I think it’s great when you hear from people who have taken up or re-ignited their passion as a result of it and I’ve heard that a lot of adult dance classes have started in the UK due to demand.”

Now fully bitten by the dancing bug, Carol and 11 other members of the group have revealed that they have also embarked upon a new project, which will be revealed later this year.

They have been training together each week with dancer Daniel Jones at Woodkirk Valley Country Park in Dewsbury, have performed at four charity events and have been invited to showcase their skills at the Royal Ballet in August.

Carol said: “The experience gave me such a big confidence boost and it’s re-ignited my passion for dance.

“I feel so much better in myself and think that we have achieved our aims of proving that you don’t have to be stick thin to dance.”

To vote for Big Ballet in the TV Choice Awards, go to: www.tvchoicemagazine.co.uk/awards

Huddersfield on the small screen: TV hits filmed in our back yard - click here to see

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