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After a triumphant Christmas season in 2008, in which she danced the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Lauren’s ordeal began. It took her six months of effort before she could walk for 20 minutes at a stretch.
The next April she came down with what she thought was flu and tried to keep going, although she found it hard to move. ‘My dad, bless him, would drive me to the beach or park so I could do my walking there,’ she says.
Lauren’s plan was to make her Royal Ballet comeback in May 2010 with the modern work Chroma.
This is a major event – it is the first time in 15 years that the Royal Ballet has commissioned a new full-length ballet, and it is a huge artistic and financial risk.It’s clearly strenuous stuff – you can hear her panting loudly as she crosses the floor. ‘I haven’t done a full run-through yet, but I know it’s going to be tough because I get tired just doing one or two scenes, and there are 14 of them in act one. ’ What’s more, as it’s a new work, she can’t get advice from a predecessor on how to pace herself.‘Usually someone else has done it first and can tell you where to take it easy.’ It would be a daunting prospect for any dancer, but it is especially so for Lauren, who had to take more than a year off when she was stricken with postviral fatigue syndrome.Norman, a butcher, and Paula, a hairdresser, are Liverpudlians who fell in love with the county – and each other.Lauren was sent to ballet classes because she was naughty and her mother thought a bit of discipline would be good for her. ‘I didn’t know what being a ballerina meant but I couldn’t imagine myself not doing it.’Although neither parent danced, it’s a talent that runs in the genes – Lauren’s brother Aaron, 27, joined in the dancing classes when he was seven and won a place at the Royal Ballet School (he now works in TV and West End shows), and Lauren followed him a year later.