THE BRITNEY SPEARS STORY: Britney Wanted to Dance as Soon as She Took Her First Step
Barry, Maggie, The Mirror (London, England)
POP sensation Britney Spears has the world at her feet.
She's one of the sexiest women on the planet, a multi millionairess and has just made the top 20 list of the most powerful people in showbiz - and she's only 18.
But it's her mum who knows the real Britney - and who set her on the road to fame and fortune.
Lynne Spears said: "She was a very sweet and lovable baby.
"She started talking early and she always loved music and dancing.
"She wanted to dance almost as soon as she could take her first steps.
"And I'm sure it was her love of music that helped her remember all the steps."
Britney's first public per- formance was in her local church at the age of four.
And she also did ballet, tap dancing and baby gymnastics in her home town of Kentwood, Louisiana.
But even as a tiny tumbler, her talent marked her out from the rest.
She shone in gymnastics and was so good she was soon travelling to a proper gym where she began to take formal lessons.
It was here that Britney - not yet 10 - learned that hard work and determination were just as important as talent in getting to the top.
Still little more than a babe in arms, she travelled daily with her mum to her new gym - an hour's drive away - to practise every day for three hours to make sure she stayed on top.
And it paid off. Britney Spears won several state titles in gymnastics.
Her favourite events were the floor exercises o-o where her early dancing skills gave her the edge - and the asymmetric bars.
Britney said: "I was never pushed. I never had to be. All the enthusiasm came from me."
The middle of three children, her mum was a school teacher and dad, Jamie, is a building contractor.
They are both Baptists and brought Britney up to be devout so that, even today, she regrets not being able to get to church when she is on tour.
And they backed her when, at the tender age of nine, she retired from gymnastics and returned to her first love - dancing.
Lynne said: "She joined a dance company which toured the state competing and she began to sing too.
"Her speciality was jazz dancing. She didn't always win - but she usually did very well."
Britney loved the life. She loved being on stage and she loved performing.
"I don't know where it came from," says Britney in her sweet Southern drawl.
"I guess it's just the way I was brought up. My mom always said - 'Go for what you want'."
And that's exactly what young Britney did.
LIKE millions of other American youngsters, she was captivated by the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club. Talented youngsters would appear regularly singing and dancing with Mickey and his friends. It was a wonderful showcase.
Britney travelled to Atlanta for an audition, made the finals and was disqualified immediately - she was too young. …