Two young dancers from Swindon have been picked as the first up and coming entertainment stars to be sponsored by P&O Cruises following the launch of a new partnership between the company and Swindon based Wilkes Academy set up by TV presenter and singer Jonathan Wilkes.
P & O Cruises will sponsor two students a year, covering their fees at the academy, as well as giving performing opportunities and work experience on board their ships.
Joel Ekperisin, 21, and 16 year old Charlotte Payne are the first to be awarded the sponsorship.
Joel began dancing at the age of 10 after moving to London from Nigeria. With street dancing his first passion he joined Pineapple Studios and gained experience in commercials, pantomime and music videos. After a spell with the dance crew Cerebro he knew he wanted a long term career in dance and would benefit from the full time course offered at Wilkes. He now has daily training in ballet, tap and modern as well as commercial dance, singing and drama.
First year Wilkes student Charlotte Payne began dancing at the age of two at Swindon Academy of Dance. She twice represented team England in the dance world cup in Portugal and Romania and then worked with the BBC on dance show Glee Club.
P & O Cruises hopes the partnership with the Wilkes Academy, launched on 9 October, will help nurture new talent. Their ships have state of the art theatres on board which rival shows at the West End and Broadway.