ASPIRING Luton ballet star William Simmons wept tears of joy when he was told he’d been accepted by the prestigious Estonia National Ballet.
The 22-year-old from Hollybush Road said: “I’ve never cried in my life before – not when I was badly bullied at school, not even when I broke my fibia and tibula and thought I’d never dance again.
“But it was such an emotional moment. I couldn’t really believe it.”
His mum, sister and nan were equally excited. They have been his keenest supporters – and critics – since he first started ballroom dancing at the age of eight.
When he was 10, he started accompanying his sister to her Saturday classes at the London Studio Centre, mainly because his mum couldn’t get a babysitter.
“One of the teachers saw I was bored and said I could join in with the boys,” William recalled.
“After doing one class I was hooked. It suited me and I enjoyed it.”
He auditioned for the Royal Ballet summer school and was subsequently accepted for their lower school.
William confessed: “I enjoyed the dancing but I was quite badly bullied, mentally and physically. Three of us were picked on and it destroyed my confidence.
“But I think it made me tougher and work harder. It’s got me where I am today.”
He moved to the Hammond School in Chester and then on to the English National Ballet school when he was 16.
But in the first term he slipped and broke both bones in his lower leg. His consultant didn’t think he’d dance again. But William was determined to prove him wrong – and succeeded.
Before graduating, he was injured again. He sprained an ankle after taking the lead in an end of term show. He then joined the Central School of Ballet, after a brief spell with Northern Ballet, and graduates this month with a BA Hons.
William starts his four-year contract with the Estonia National Ballet next month. “I knew I’d have to go abroad because it’s so difficult to get a job here,” he said. “But I’m lucky to be doing what I love.”
CSB director Sara Matthews said William was one of their most talented students.
She added: “We will follow his progress with interest.”