LIKE most 15-year-olds, Joe Birtles Clarke, has spent the Christmas holidays revising for his mock GCSEs and ‘messing about’ on his phone with his mates.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Joe has also been preparing for auditions for senior ballet schools throughout the world to attend in September.

He said: “I always loved dancing but it was a teacher at my school who asked my mum if I could start lessons.”

In 2015 when he was ten, Joe started at the the June Rendell Academy of Dance in Barrington Road. Altrincham.

“I was very excited,” said Joe. “My mum booked me a private lesson so that I wasn’t in a huge class of people who knew what to do.”

He showed such talent that in November 2015 his dancing teachers suggested he join the Royal Ballet School Junior Associate programme.

Joe said: “I just loved to dance and it came naturally to me.”

Six months later he attended a Junior Associate audition at Centre Pointe in Manchester. “It was hard. We had a class and had to improvise. I was nervous and felt I had messed up,” said Joe.

He was gob smacked when he found out he had been offered a place at the Royal Ballet School’s boarding school, White Lodge in London.

His parents thought he should wait another year before going.

Later Joe felt ready to go there so, the following February, he attended another audition.. It was just seventeen months after his first lesson.

Joe felt overwhelmed when, afterwards, Mr Powney, the Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet, offered him a place there and then. He wouldn’t have to wait until September.

He would have to leave his friends at Cheadle Hulme School whom he had joined shortly after leaving the Bollin Primary School in Bowdon.

Aged only 11 Joe was leaving for boarding school.

He felt guilty about not feeling homesick but was too busy making new friends

“Half of our lessons there are academic and we do ballet for the other half.

“We all work hard,” he said. We have an hour of prep at night, too.

“Last term was jam packed. As well as auditions, we were prepared for a choreography competition.”

Thanks to White Lodge, Joe played Fritz in the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House and also took part in the Grand Defile there.

“Dancing to an orchestra was amazing,” he said.

With fellow pupils, he also danced at Opera Holland Park where he played the wolf in Sleeping Beauty and took part in other shows.

Joe’s ultimate ambition would be to perform with the Royal Ballet Company.