Isabella McGuire Mayes has won the Great Britons competition

Izzy has won the BA Great Britons competition.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who voted because Izzy’s ranking shot up over the weekend and that must have been in no small part due to all of you.

Why Izzy was chosen:
At just 16, Isabella showed enormous courage in taking herself off to the Kirov Ballet School in St. Petersburg, Russia. Not speaking the language didn’t daunt the young star, who remains the only British student currently studying at the school.
Izzy is a true Great Briton, representing British talent on the world stage, and overcoming huge challenges to achieve her dream. Izzy’s award will enable her to fly back and forth between the UK and St. Petersburg, ensuring her much-deserved holidays back home while she fulfills her four-year course at the school.

Izzy’s story…

“I have been learning ballet since I was two – really seriously since I was 7. First of all I went St Joan of Arc Primary School in Highbury, London and I did ballet every Saturday. But then I met a Russian ballet teacher. Her classes were so hard that at first I cried. My Mum thought- well that’s that then! But then, after a few days, I asked my Mum if I could see that lady again.

She’s now very special to me. We’ve worked hard together for many years. I got into the Royal Ballet School at 13. When I was 14-15 I had a lot of problems when I grew. It was really painful for nearly a year because my bones had grown and my muscles had to catch up. Sometimes it was excruciating to keep going.

It was crunch time when I was 15. We were all auditioning for the Royal Ballet School Upper School in Covent Garden. I went on a visit to St Petersburg with my teacher Zina. The head of the Kirov Ballet School ( which is called the Vaganova Ballet Academy) took a look at me. They changed their rules to offer me a place at only 16. I was amazed – ecstatic. For me this is the best ballet school in the world. Rudolph Nureyev went there and Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky, Barishnikov – they make so many great dancers. So last September I was scared stiff to be starting a new life in this school in Russia.

I have just completed a year and I am the only British girl there. I am learning Russian. I live in a hostel inside the school and I think it’s been the best decision of my life to go. At first trying to keep my legs high for ages was so hard. It is all very, very difficult but so rewarding and inspiring. My family thought I would just go for two years. But when I got there the Russian teachers said they wanted me to learn everything – and that means I will be there four years all together. My parents don’t know how they’re going to pay for it. It’s already cost a lot. Free flights would be such a big help. It will really help give me the best chance to fulfil my dreams.”

What is the British Airways Great Britons scheme?

• British Airways is the proud airline partner of London 2012
• To help British talent take off the British Airways Great Britons scheme offers free flights to upcoming British talent
• The programme offers 180 flights a year, every year in the run up to 2012
• Winners are chosen every 2 months from a panel of expert judges, including Olympic gold medalist, Denise Lewis
• Applicants are welcomed to prove their talent in any area: sport, music, fashion, performing arts, art and design, innovation, or community
Apply online for the next round

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7 Responses to Isabella McGuire Mayes has won the Great Britons competition

  1. Sarah July 27, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    Fantastic!! That is such good news and so well deserved.Well done, Isabella!!

  2. Anonymous July 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    You are going to interview Izzy aren't you ?

  3. Anonymous July 28, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Brilliant news – I am so pleased that we made a difference thanks to you Elise.

  4. Anonymous July 28, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Well done Izzy. You deserved to win.

  5. Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Will you be writing an interview with Izzy ? Would be good to hear how she received the news that she had won, and what she plans to do next.

  6. Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Well done Izzy. Please keep us posted

  7. Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    What a triumph ! Well done

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