Schoolgirl, 11, becomes first person with a black belt in martial arts to join the Royal Ballet School
A schoolgirl has become the first person with a martial art black belt to muscle her way into the prestigious Royal Ballet School.
Ava May Llewellyn, 11, has been awarded the top honour in Taekwondo and scooped a place at the world famous dance academy.
She took her first dance steps when she was just two-years-old and packed her first punch at martial art classes aged four.
Ava May was one of the youngest fighters at her club to pick up the esteemed belt when she was awarded the accolade two months ago.
She has now beat off competition from 1,000 applicants across the world who were vying for just 24 sought-after places at the Royal Ballet School in London.
Ava May, of Downend, Bristol, will begin boarding at the elite Royal Ballet Lower School at White Lodge in the capital’s Richmond Park in September.
Mum Michele, said her toe-tapping daughter has been prancing and pirouetting ever since she took her first lesson.
“Pretty much since she could walk she has been dancing,” said Michele, 42, a council fostering manager.
“Ava doesn’t walk anywhere – she dances and pirouettes everywhere. That’s just the way she is.
“Dancing really is her great passion and she has always wanted to do it.
“We are so very proud of her because she has worked so hard to achieve both of these things.
“It is such an incredible achievement – particularly the ballet because neither me nor my husband has any background in dance.
“If you had told me a few years ago that my 11-year-old daughter would be going off to boarding school – I would say there was no way.
“But she has done it and we are going to support her.
“It will be strange not having her in the house. She only has the one brother and she does fill the house with her singing and her dancing, but it is her dream to be a world famous dancer.”
Ava dances at Dance Station in Fishponds, Bristol, and trains at North Bristol Taekwondo School. She lives with mum Michele, dad John, a store manager at B&Q, and big brother Theo, 13, who also has a black belt in the martial art.
Ava May got hooked on the sport after watching Theo during his lessons.
Michele said there were crossovers between the two disciplines.
She said: “There’s flexibility and both need core strength. We were delighted but in total shock as well.”
Martial arts teacher Richard Thornton added: “She’s a very talented young lady and I wish her all the best.”