BOLTON’S answer to Billy Elliot has beaten thousands of hopefuls to win a dance school scholarship worth more than £100,000.
Dancer Saul Kilcullen-Jarvis, aged 16, will start at the prestigious Tring Park classical ballet academy in Hertfordshire for three years of elite training.
The teenager, from Doffcocker, passed three auditions to be selected as one of 25 new classical pupils, chosen from a field of about 5,000.
Saul started ballet when he was only six, after watching dancing on TV with his grandmother.
He is one of just seven youngsters to be given a Dada Award, which will pay for his £35,000-per-year course fees that are too expensive for his family to fund.
Saul said: “I’m really excited and so relieved I’m going to be able to go.
“I watched ballet when I was a kid and just loved it.
“The brilliant thing about ballet is that you can never be perfect, there is always something to improve on every time.”
Younger brother Luca Kilcullen, aged 10, has not followed Saul into dance, opting for football and jujitsu instead, and Saul thinks it is good the siblings have different hobbies.
He added: “I have been lucky and always had massive support from friends at school and teachers.
“In the past year, I have trained for about four hours every night, while doing my GCSEs, and teachers allowed me to juggle my time.”
Saul heads to Tring Park on September 7, where he will have the option to study A-levels alongside his gruelling dance training, having completed his GCSEs at St Joseph’s School last year.
Saul’s mum Delia Kilcullen, aged 45, said: “It is a big step for a 16-year-old but you can’t really commute.
“I am really excited for him and so relieved he won this scholarship, which also shows how good he must be.
“He was six or seven when he first started dancing.
“I remember him watching it on the TV with my mum, it was Swan Lake I think, and he just said ‘I want to do that’. It was quite surprising really.”
Saul studied at Bolton's Frances Bleasdale School of Dancing in the town centre.
Delia added: “I thought he might give it up when he went to secondary school but he was determined to stick with it.”
Billy Elliot tells the story of a young lad from a bleak North East town who discovers ballet in the midst of the miners’ strike