Leighton dance star Cordelia Braithwaite dons The Red Shoes

Leighton ballerina Cordelia Braithwaite is dancing the lead  in Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes - Pic Johan Persson
Leighton ballerina Cordelia Braithwaite is dancing the lead in Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes - Pic Johan Persson
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For someone who wanted to be a vet, Cordelia Braithwaite’s career has taken a surprise turn.

The former Cedars schoolgirl is now a shimmering rising star at acclaimed choreographer Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company.

And she’ll be sharing the lead role of Victoria Page in his magical new adaption of The Red Shoes with Australian-born ballerina Ashley Shaw. It was immortalised on screen by Moira Shearer in the 1940s film about the tragic ballerina, torn between her career and the two men who love her - her mentor and her husband.

Cordelia started dancing as a seven-year-old when her mum enrolled her in the town’s Leanne Hughes School of Dance. And it was Leanne herself who encouraged the talented youngster to think of a future on the stage.

At 16 she was awarded a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts and graduated in 2012. But it was seeing Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at Milton Keynes Theatre in 2009 that proved a life-changing experience.

Cordelia, who grew up in Stoke Hammond, was mesmerised and inspired in equal measure. She said: “I was captivated straight away. I loved the way everything was slightly twisted and so different from anything else I’d seen – Matthew is like the Tim Burton of theatre.”

And in a happily curious quirk of fate, her first professional engagement was with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.

Since then she’s appeared in his productions of The Car Man and Sleeping Beauty, where she danced the lead – Aurora.

Her trajectory has been nothing short of spectacular and she herself can hardly believe she’s living the dream.

“It’s all happened so quickly,” she said.

She and Ashley are very close, in spite of their different styles and personalities. When Cordelia’s boyfriend, dancer Jonathan Ollivier was killed in a motorbike accident in 2015, Ashley was ‘like a sister’ to the grief-stricken young star.

Cordelia also credits the company with being there for her through the dark days that followed and picking her up when she felt she couldn’t carry on.

She always immerses herself in her roles and The Red Shoes is no different – prepare for your senses to be dazzled and your heart to be broken.

> The Red Shoes is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Feb 14 - 18. Call 0844 871 7652.