Tala Lee-Turton’s talent has taken her on an incredible journey, from Barnsley to the Bolshoi – and beyond. In 2016, Tala made history as only the third British female to graduate from the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in its 245-year-history, and now she’s achieving her career goals as a professional classical ballet dancer with the Astrakhan State Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
Tala’s extraordinary journey has taken her 2000 miles from home in Yorkshire to Russia, where aged 16, she moved to pursue her dream. To achieve the world-class standards of Russian classical ballet, Tala had to learn the Russian language from scratch and adapt to a strict and disciplined dancer’s regime, working up to ten-hours-a-day, six days a week. Her hard work paid off – after-four years of intensive training, Tala is a professional Russian-trained, classical ballet dancer, on a career-path which continues to take strength, determination and sacrifice – but remains firmly on her journey as a rising star in the international ballet world.
Tala regularly blogs about her journey to become a Russian-trained classical ballet dancer, sharing insights into her training and career as a champion for aspiring young dancers, and her life on-stage and off-stage in Russia and Yorkshire.
Born and raised in Barnsley, Tala began dancing at the age of four when her talent was spotted by her local dance school. Aged 11 she won a scholarship to one of the UK’s top performing arts schools but while studying there, she was told that she’d never become a classical dancer. Determined to achieve her ambition, she found new teachers at Bristol Russian Ballet School. From here she was invited to audition for the Bolshoi and in 2012, at just 16-years-old, won her place at the world-famous ballet school.
Based in Russia as a professional ballet dancer with her company, Astrakhan State Opera and Ballet Theatre, she performs frequently in their beautiful, purpose built theatre along with open air performances at the Astrakhan Kremlin, and also on international tours. Tala’s repertoire includes classics, such as Cygnets and Neapolitan in Swan Lake, plus soloist roles in Giselle, Nutcracker and Don Quixote and productions choreographed specifically for the company.
Tala is also a choreographer. She is collaborating with young artists in the dance, film and music industries to produce work that will engage new audiences. She has produced video art to capture a range of collaborations and also choreographs for dancers wishing to perform at international competitions or specific gala productions. Tala has competed in several international competitions as a pre-professional. Prior to her graduation she participated in the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida and finished in the top 10 of the professional category, ranked third overall female.
In addition to her professional career, Tala is committed to supporting young people experience the technical excellence of Russian classical ballet training. When she is back home in the UK, she teaches ballet to young people, hosting masterclasses in her local community and further afield. She finds it immensely rewarding to encourage and inspire them to achieve and succeed, whether in the world of classical dance or any other career.
Tala is born and brought up in Barnsley, England and returns to her family home there when her work commitments allow her. She is proud to be an ambassador for the town; winning the Proud of Barnsley Young Superstar award in 2012 and also becoming a Barnsley Civic Champion.
It’s hard to describe the magnitude of my feelings when I look back on my graduation in June 2016. I’ve graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy after four years of intensity I never dreamed I would ever experience.