IN just a few weeks Jack Richardson will be taking to the stage in a production by renowned choreographer Matthew Bourne.

When he steps out in front of audiences for Romeo and Juliet it will be a culmination of a lifelong dream which started when he was just eight-years-old.

The ballet dancer, 20, is Colchester’s own Billy Elliot.

Taking up dancing as a child when it was ‘not the stereotypical thing to do’ meant it has been a tough journey.

But he is now hoping to inspire a new generation of boys to pick up their ballet pumps after winning a place with the New Adventures company.

Jack, a former Colchester High School pupil, said: “If it wasn’t for my sister I wouldn’t be dancing.

“I went to watch her doing ballet and she was having fun and I thought ‘Why not, I want to give that a go’.”

From there Jack started going to dance school and his ballet teacher Catherine Pickering suggested he audition for DanceEast, which is based in Ipswich.

Jack was given a place on the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) scheme learning contemporary dance.

It was during an end of year show when Jack first came across New Adventures, which was set up by world acclaimed choreographer Bourne in 2002.

“From then I watched all of the performances, seeing as much as them I could,” Jack said.

Then last April, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he auditioned for the young company for a role in the ballet of the classic play Romeo and Juliet.

Since then there have been intense rehearsals spread across the past 12 months.

Jack will perform at the Theatre Royal in Norwich during September.

“This is the first time I have experienced anything like this,” he said.

“It wasn’t announced until September and it was a long time of trying to keep it under wraps.

“It has been really fun and the company is really lovely.

“It has given me a lot of experience of how a company works. I am loving it.”

Jack, who is now studying a contemporary dance degree at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, hopes his journey will inspire others.

“It has been difficult,” he admitted.

“Being a young boy dancing was hard as it wasn’t the stereotypical thing to do.

“It was made easier through family, though.

“Dancing is fun but can be chaotic and that can be hard.

“When I started out there wasn’t really any roles models as I didn’t know much about dance.

“At the time I was still playing cricket and football.

“I was the only boy at dance school for a while.

“When I join the Centre for Advanced Training there were more boys but only four or five or us.”

Last week, Jack went back to Colchester Sixth Form College to speak to youngsters about dance including its challenges and its opportunities.

“In dancing now you have to be versatile,” he said.

“Everyone is going for anything and everything.

“It is something we all love doing and we are lucky enough to be doing a job we are so passionate about.

“This is what drives us.”

Jack said his family, girlfriend and friends had been key to his success.

“My family have sacrificed a lot and not just my parents and sister but my grandparents too.

“They have all supported me and I am so grateful.”

Romeo and Juliet will be performed at the Theatre Royal from September 3 to 7.