Fundraiser launched to help Billy Elliott of Andover attend the school of his dreams
A teenage ANDOVER landed a dream scholarship to attend a ballet school in Chicago.
16-year-old Ruben Mariner-Barbeito from Andover started attending a Strictly Come Dancing after-school club at age nine, and his dance school noticed something special.
He was encouraged to apply to the prestigious Royal Ballet School at White Lodge, where he secured a place.
Ruben never looked back and was recently offered an artistic scholarship to attend Joffrey Ballet School in Chicago to study classical ballet.
The scholarship only covers course fees, however, leaving her parents to wrestle with how they will pay for accommodation and living expenses.
The family set up a fundraising page and were delighted with the generosity of individuals and groups, including the ice hockey club of Ruben’s father, Chris Mariner, who, along with his sponsor, KJM Windows, made a donation to the cause.
“They were brilliant, I can’t thank them enough,” Chris told The Gazette.
As a thank you, Ruben gave a beginner’s ballet class to his father’s ice hockey team, the Basingstoke Cougars, on Wednesday, June 2. His dad says they all enjoyed it, although he admits there was some stiffness the next day. .
Chris said: “We don’t really bend like that these days!”
Ruben gave a ballet lesson to the Basingstoke Cougars ice hockey team as a thank you for their donation
Ruben’s father added that his son was “very excited and very nervous” about attending the prestigious American dance school.
To secure a spot, Ruben had to do a ballet routine in his kitchen on Microsoft Teams, with a Chicago pianist playing the backing music via the video link, which his father described as “a pretty freakish experience.”
When asked if dancing was part of the family, his father replied, “No, we don’t know where his talent comes from. I have two left feet. Her mother says she can dance but there is no dancing in the family.
To donate to Ruben’s fund and help him pursue his dream, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rubens-ballet-in-chicago