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Be inspired every day with Living North
Tala Lee-Turton Darian Volkova
March 2022
Reading time 5 minutes

At just 16 years old Barnsley-born Tala left the UK after being accepted to train at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy

After seven years in Russia she returned to the UK to continue dancing for companies such as English National Ballet before setting up her own production company, Tala Lee-Turton Productions. Tala is now looking forward to showcasing her first female-led production, titled No Time Like The Present, at Wentworth Woodhouse later this year.
Darian Volkova Darian Volkova

How did you get into dance?
I began dancing at the age of four at my local dance school in Barnsley and from there it snowballed when a teacher thought I had potential. I was recommended to apply to associate programmes like The Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet which I did, and luckily the snowballing continued. It was understood that you would audition for vocational schools, of which I spent five years at a professional performing arts school in the UK, before moving to Russia at the age of 16 to study at the Bolshoi.

How does it feel to be one of the few female dancers to graduate from the Bolshoi?
I do feel a great sense of achievement, but I’m aware that it’s not the be all and end all. There’s a lot of discourse within the ballet world that one size fits all, but I’m quite keen to change that. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, but I don’t want to stick on it and I wouldn’t want young dancers to take what I have achieved and not question if there are other ways of doing things. I’m probably most proud of what I’m doing now, setting up my own company, because it’s a scary leap to
question what you’ve always known.

Tell us about setting up your own production company.
I started to freelance when I came back to the UK and when the pandemic started it put a halt to everything – it actually gave me some time to reflect, which was when I set up Tala Lee-Turton Productions and I have been working on producing my own work ever since. In the summer I researched and developed my first complete work and that is going to go ahead with a run of live performances this coming summer at Wentworth Woodhouse. It’s called No Time Like The Present and it’s a diverse and female-led production which has been produced following my core values which include fair practice and allowing dancers to have a voice in the process.

Do you have a typical working day?
Every day is really different and I have to spin a lot of plates as a dancer, as a producer and as a student – I’m at Goldsmiths University of London studying Arts Management. At this stage of the game my production company is a bit of an army of one with lots of really adored mentors and creatives who all support me. However, I’m the one writing the funding bid, scheduling, identifying suppliers, bringing the creative teams together and having concept discussions with choreographers I work with. I love it and I have a lot of passion and motivation for it, but I’m also aware that it’s a lot – I just try and make sure I don’t burn out.

So how do you relax?
I love to cook and watch films, and I also love to read.

Do you have a favourite book?
I don’t have a favourite but I’ve been recommended one which is very much to do with my day to day practices. It’s called Culture is Bad For You and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

‘I started to freelance when I came back to the UK and when the pandemic started it put a halt to everything – it actually gave me some time to reflect’

Who inspires you?
My mum. Ever since I was little I’ve seen her be a one-woman show and work so hard to keep me in ballet shoes and going to class and getting the most out of life. And not just dance-wise either – she ensures I can experience all sorts of things and for that I will always be extremely grateful.

What do you love most about Yorkshire?
What I love most is that a lot of people I meet down South are unaware of just how excitingly diverse some of the places are up here, and Sheffield, where I’m based now, is definitely one of those places.

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