A teenage ballerina who became the first British dancer to be accepted into one of Russia’s most prestigious ballet schools is to make a triumphant return to London to perform in Swan Lake.
But after an appeal in the Evening Standard, The Slater Foundation charitable group offered to pay the 17-year-old’s tuition fees and for sports massage and athletic nutrition, while the legal organisation, the Scriveners of the City of London, sponsored her pointe shoes which are made by Darcey Bussell’s shoemaker, Bob Martin.
Now Isabella is to dance as a swan at the Coliseum. Her big break came when she was spotted by top Russian choreographer Mikhail Messerer while performing at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg for the ballet school.
She was asked to join the Mikhailovsky Ballet and after just one rehearsal, she was chosen to go to London with the company. But she will have only two days to rehearse here with her fellow dancers before opening night. Her visa expired and she had to leave Russia before the rest of the company, who are not due to arrive until Sunday.
She said: “The company’s given me a DVD of Swan Lake to watch every day so that I can keep it in my brain. I can’t wait, it’s going to be really fun.”
Messerer, ballet master in chief at the Mikhailovsky Ballet, said: “I spotted this brilliant girl in a school class and straight away invited her to join us on our London tour, without even realising she was British — that came as a total surprise and a bonus.”
Isabella started at the Vaganova Academy — which has produced stars including Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky — when she was just 15, after training at the Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge in Richmond Park.
Academy chiefs have asked her to stay for the full four-year course and have told her she has the talent to become a prominent ballerina. She hopes eventually to join either the Royal Ballet in London or a top Russian company.
Her mother Ann McGuire, a TV producer who lives in Buckinghamshire, said: “I feel really proud of her. These great things happened as a result of the Standard article last year.”