Brian Beacom

IT’S only 10am, you point out to Isaac Peter Bowry, currently starring in Swan Lake running this week in town.

What’s the point of getting into showbiz if you have to be out of your pit before 12 noon?

“Well, a lot of people in the arts work terribly hard,” he explains in rather serious voice. “We’re perfectionists, and as a dancer you have to rehearse in the morning. We are athletes in our own way.”

I’m having a little joke with you, Isaac. The 23 realises he’s been sounding rather serious and laughs.

“Yes, we have to work hard, but you wouldn’t expect an athlete to open the door and begin running a 100m.”

Right now, Isaac is starring in one of the most demanding dance shows in the UK, making his professional debut with New Adventures in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

To say he’s happy to have landed the role is the understatement of the century. “When I went to see Matthew Bourne’s production of The Nutcracker I was completely blown away.

“That was my first live dance production I’d seen in a theatre. Then when I saw Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells, it wasn’t a case of wanting to do this, it was ‘I need to do this.’”

He loved this new abstract, quirky approach, a new view of how dancers can tell a story, but in a daring, evocative way.

“I had trained in classical ballet but it’s so structured and formatted and repetitive. That’ not bad in itself. It’s the traditional way, but for me I needed something more ¬ - and that is what this company is all about.”

Isaac grew up in Manchester and his interest in dance came about one day in high school.

“My form room was actually the dance studio and one day the new dance school group began as I walked past. I thought I liked the look of it and gave it a go.

“From there I got a place on the scheme at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester.”

Dance isn’t an automatic choice for young men. Was there a little bit of Billy Elliot teasing going on?

“I did get a little bit of it early on but really the school was very supportive in whatever you wanted to do, whether as a dancer or a footballer.

“ And my family were great. I never really got negativity for my dancing.”

But did he think he could make a career? “I didn’t but the more I danced the more I saw possibility,” he says.

Aged 16, Isaac took off to dance school in Argyle, prompted by the reputation of dance teacher Sara-Maria Barton. “It was a match made in heaven,” he recalls.

Was it hard to leave home for Scotland? “I didn’t struggle awfully. It was all new to me and exciting and the friends I made became a new family.” He grins; “And I was just 16, I had no idea about the other side of life.”

He went on to become Principal Dancer with the Japanese Youth Ballet. “This was my first professional contract. It was a whirlwind, less than a week from graduating from dance school.”

Yet, he wasn’t overawed by performance. “It was more a problem with the language,” he says, smiling. “I tried to learn some basic words, although the language of classical ballet is universal.”

His progress up the ranks has been remarkable, from Alice in Wonderland, he has appeared in Giselle and Romeo and Juliet.

“I’ve auditioned with New Adventures every year,” he explains of his dedication to the craft.

“ I didn’t get jobs but they invited me to be part of the classes and workshops, which was great because they wanted to see how I’d developed as a professional.

“They want to make sure you’re reliable because so much depends upon it. They want people who are consistent, who can deliver to every single performance on the tour. And over this time, the company had been telling me the areas I needed to improve upon.”

Isaac listened and learned. Now, at 23 he has arrived. “I’m still pinching myself that it’s all happening. As much as I have the commitment to make it happen, there is always doubt. You are in a world of so many amazing dancers.”

He adds; “For the initial audition, there are around 400 people they see, which is then cut down to 100 and then 40. But of that number, there are only around 20 places available for those who have never worked for the company before.

“That’s why need to have thick skin. You need to have the mindset to accept that it’s not always about being a great dancer.

“Sometimes it’s about your size, whether you fit the costumes, are you the right height to match up with your partner. It’s a visual art form. It all has to look correct on stage.”

Does he think he possesses a dance gene? “My dad thinks I got it from him,” he says, laughing, “but I’ve seen him dance and I don’t think so.

“Actually, I think I got it from my grandmother who was always dancing.”

He adds; “She’s still dancing. She’s keeping an eye on me from the other side.”

Swan Lake, The King’s Theatre, until Saturday.