Flying start as ballet teens lift off for Russia
These aspiring young ballet dancers are pirouetting all the way to Russia next autumn to study at one of the world's most prestigious ballet schools.
Hundreds of aspiring ballerinas from around the world apply to study at the Perm State Choreographic Institute outside St Petersburg every year.
Alana Borza (15) from Dalkey, Megan Mullen (14) from Dundalk and Victoria Young (15) from Rathgar have now been awarded three of just 10 annual places for international students.
A fourth ballet student, Anthony White (16), from Rathmines (also pictured), will also be auditioning for a place at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia this summer.
Alana started ballet at the age of three and, since then, it has become a 24/7 obsession.
Aside from watching her diet - which she jokingly admits can be a bit challenging at times as a member of the Borza Italian chipper dynasty and daughter of a restaurateur - she attends ballet school three times a week after school, as well as all weekend.
But now all the hard work is starting to pay off and Alana said there's nothing she would rather be doing.
"I've always loved it, so it has been easy for me to keep working at it. I love the elegance and the discipline in it," she told the Irish Independent.
All the dancers come from different backgrounds but all work incredibly hard.
What they all share in common, aside from a love of the art, is the athletic skill and physical and psychological toughness to make it, instructor Monica Loughman said.
"For people who look so delicate, they have to have a steely determination," she said.
"With any form of athletics, these kids have to be very disciplined. They're not playing at ballet, this is their life."
But if they succeed at the school, they have a very good chance of going on to join some of the best ballet companies in the world, Ms Loughman said.
"Perm has graduated a massive wave of international stars," she said. "These kids are serious."