Star Turn for Dancer; A Warwickshire Teenager Is Making a Guest Appearance with the State Ballet Academy of Belarus in the Nutcracker. CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR Reports

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A CCOMPLISHED young dancer Esme Down has never seen a professional ballet before - and now she's performing in one.

The 13-year-old Rugby High School pupil has been chosen to dance as a guest in the first act of Russian Ballet Classic's The Nutcracker with the State Ballet Academy of Belarus at the Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa.

"Ballet is my absolute favourite thing," she explains.

"I have never been to see a ballet before and my mum was going to book tickets to see this one - but now I am going to be in it."

Esme entered a Facebook competition to appear on stage with the Russian ballet company and was shocked to win.

"You had to write in saying why you wanted to do it and the experience you had. I was coming home from holiday with my friend when I found out I'd won and just sat in the car and screamed. I'm really excited."

Tchaikovsky's classic ballet will be brought to life by 45 young artists on Wednesday in the run up to Christmas.

Based on E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, it follows the adventures of a young girl called Marie. Marie, who is given a Nutcracker doll for Christmas, enters a dreamlike land of magic where she soon discovers her Nutcracker prince and dances with beautiful snowflakes.

Esme first started dancing at The Christine Anderson Theatre School (CATS) in Rugby when she was two-and-a-half years old.

"I take RAD exams and I'm building towards my first higher level exam (intermediate foundation)," she says.

"When I was nine, I took part in the English Youth Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty at the Spa Centre. …