Picking out a pink tutu and a matching pair of ribboned ballet pumps has become a rite of passage for countless little girls across the globe as they sign up to dancing classes hoping to become a prima ballerina.
Most of us never make it out of the village hall dance academy but a 20-year-old from England has become one of only a handful of British dancers to graduate from the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia.
Rachel Armstrong has spent the last three years following a gruelling regime which included learning Russian under the watchful eye of her strict instructors at the £17,000 a year school.
She began dancing at the age of six at a local dance academy and she was so keen that her parents Peter and Lisa turned their garage into a studio so that she could practice at home daily.
Rachel left school at 16, studying at her local dance studio full-time before submitting her application to the Bolshoi aged 17. She now plans to apply to ballet companies across Europe.
‘It’s gone so quickly. I feel like I haven’t even blinked. I still can’t believe it. It’s been very hard and stressful at times but I am so happy to be graduating.
‘When I started three years ago I didn’t know if I would ever get to this point. I still have a difficult time believing this has happened. It’s a relief to have got this far. I feel very proud and I know my parents are too but I’m looking forward to going back home’.