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Wayne Sleep OBE (born July 17, 1948 in Plymouth, England) is a British dancer, director and choreographer. He was a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet and has appeared as a Guest Artist with several other ballet companies.

Contents

Early Life

He moved with his family to Hartlepool ca. 1951 and spent ten years there. He was educated at Hyde Park Junior School, and began dancing lessons in Hartlepool in 1955 with Muriel Carr, before gaining a Leverhulme Scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in 1961 and joining the Royal Ballet in 1966.

Career

At only 5'2", Sleep is famous for being the shortest male dancer ever admitted into the Royal Ballet School. Had he not left his audition for the school early and missed his final physical examination, he would not have gained a place. Because of his diminutive stature many directors were reluctant to cast him in traditional male lead roles. As a result many roles were created for him by noted choreographers including Ashton, MacMillan, de Valois, Layton, Nureyev, and Neumeier. Sleep is often chosen for character roles due to his unusual physique. In 1982, Andrew Lloyd Webber adapted his Variations album as the second half of stage show Song and Dance for Sleep. Sleep created the role of Mr. Mistoffelees in Lloyd Webber's musical Cats in London's West End, at the New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981.

In 1973, Sleep established a world record by doing an entrechat-douze - a jump with twelve beats of the feet. This record still stands to this day (2009).

Television

As well as dancing, Sleep also acts and his credits include Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and Villiers in Soldiers. He also appeared, as himself, in The Goodies episode "Football Crazy".

Sleep's choreography credits include David and Goliath.

Sleep is remembered for dancing with Princess Diana at the annual Christmas party of the Friends of Covent Garden at the Royal Opera House in 1985[1].

In 2003, Wayne appeared in the reality TV series, I'm a Celebrity chicken... Get Me Out of Here!. In the 2005/06 pantomime season, Sleep appeared in Beauty and the Beast at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. Sleep recently completed a tour of Magic of the Musicals with Marti Webb and Robert Meadmore, as well as appearing as a judge on BBC One's Strictly Dance Fever.

Wayne Sleep has worked with the British Shakespeare Company on three successful occasions, playing Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream twice (most recently on a national tour in 2006), as well as Feste in Twelfth Night.

Sleep runs workshops all over the country that children of over the age of six can attend. He has recently appeared as Uncle Willy in a performance of High Society and is currently appearing as Emcee in 'Cabaret' which is touring around England.

Sleep also appeared in the 2008 series of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, as a team member in the feature Ant v. Dec. On the first show Ant's team lost the challenge which meant Ant had to chose one of the team members to be eliminated and chose Wayne.

Film

Wayne held a relatively unknown cameo role, as a roof and wall climbing prisoner impersonator, known as 'Clean Willy' in the 1979 Michael Crichton film "The First Great Train Robbery" starring alongside Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, where he shows great acrobatic and physical dexterity. He repeats the role climbing a sheer granite prison wall and along a railway station's roof as part of a storyline about stealing a key from a guarded office.

Popular culture

Sleep is mentioned in "Never Say Alan Again", an episode from the second series of I'm Alan Partridge. When Michael's Americanophile friend Tex mentions that "[my idol] has gotta be Wayne", Alan mistakenly concludes he means Wayne Sleep. Tex tries to correct this misconception by drawling "Get on yer horse and drink yer milk" in Wayne's unique accent, but Alan is merely further confirmed in his belief that Sleep is the man Tex is referring to.

Wayne Sleep is mentioned numerous times in the film Billy Elliot, and also in the British stage musical version of this film. (On Broadway references to Sleep were changed to Rudolf Nureyev.)

Personal life

Despite being openly gay, Sleep has stated he is still attracted to women but has not been intimate with any for many years.[2]

Sleep is a recipient of the Carl Alan Award, an industry honour voted for by dance professionals in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance.

Notes

  1. ^ "see obituary of founder of Friends of Covent Garden". http://http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article707549.ece.  
  2. ^ "Article on Daily Mirror website". http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17140597&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive--telly-dance-judge-wayne-s-amazing-secret-name_page.html.  

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