We meet the globe-trotting dancer who is coming back to Nottinghamshire to inspire young ballet hopefuls.
Hucknall's own ballet star has become an international level dancer in only a short career, and now he is coming back home to train the next generation.
Joshua Ecob, 26 of Penhale Drive has been working with some of the greatest ballet dancers of his generation and now the former pupil of Holgate Academy is preparing to run a one-off summer dance programme to mentor fledgling young dancers.
Looking back on his formative years and training in Hucknall, he said: "I started dancing here at the John Godber Centre, with the Sarah Adamson School of Dance. So Hucknall is really where I fell in love with ballet."
At 17 he left the area to train at a small private ballet school in Cheshire, and said it was a different world for a young man going into ballet then.
But some of the stigmas still persist, he adds.
“There was the whole ‘ballet is for girls’ joke. I was actually really overweight then as well, so I was this fat male ballet dancer from Hucknall, and people would say ‘you’re a fat ballet dancer, it doesn’t make any sense’.
“It made me laugh, really, and I didn’t let it affect me. This was my goal and nobody else’s, so people can say what they wish. If anything it pushed me further.”
Now Josh is a globe-trotting ballerino - he’s worked with the Serbian National Bellet in Belgrade, the Boznian National Nallet and even performed alongside Zvetlana Zakharova, the world’s most famous and highest paid ballerina, in front of 7,000 people.
Now he’s with the London Contemporary Ballet Theatre, and it was when an old friend, Sophie Duncan, stopped home from her own world tour, including working with Circe de Soleil, that the pair had the idea of running a dance programme for kids in Notts.
“We were on the tube in London and talking about old times - and we realised this is something we’ve got to do, and almost immediately I was on the computer designing leaflets and logos.
“We went into opposite directions, I went into ballet and she went into contemporary and that’s part of what we’re doing, bringing those two together for the course.
Sophie, 26, from Chesterfield, said: “I was the first person in my area to go to a leading UK dance school. Dance was the one thing I’ve always wanted to do. I would never imagined I would be in Cirque de Soleil.”
“I had a really good dance school but there were so many questions I never got to ask, and that mentorship is what’s missing in the area so that’s what we want to give - we’re not a dance school and we’re not trying to steal anybody’s students – we’re just putting on a special programme to teach people from our experience.”
NG Dance will be setting out a full week of training for kids to get a feel of what full-time training would be like at professional dance school.
They’ll be touching on technique, ballet history and provide a ‘dancer’s toolbox’ with all kinds of insider knowledge they can impart from their careers, covering both ballet and contemporary genres.
“There so many questions we never got to ask,” added Sophie, “so we’ll be giving sessions to cover this and give a Q&A, and we’ll also be providing continuing support through our website with interviews from all the contacts we’ve made in the industry.
Following that, their aim is to have more of a presence back home and put on more courses in the future.
“Dance can change young people’s prospects,” added Joshua. “It opened a door for us to experience more of the world. I cant imagine what else I’d be doing."
NG Dance will run at the Dance Studios in Hockley, Nottingham from August 1-6, 9am-5pm, costing £120 for 11-18 year olds. Limited spaces so book early.
No formal dance training necessary - open to inexperienced people who have an interest.
Visit www.ngdance.co.uk or www.facebook.com/NGDance to learn more.
(We would like to thank the John Godber Centre for allowing us to film and photograph the dancers in their main hall. Visit www.johngodbercentre.co.uk or www.facebook.com/Sarahadamsonschoolofdancing for more information.)