Dancer Joel Morris practises on Ryde beach. Picture by Laura Holme.
AN ISLAND dancer has landed on his feet, with a lead role in the world-famous musical Cats.
Joel Morris, 32, originally of The Esplanade, Ryde, is playing principal character Mr Mistoffelees, the magical cat, in the UK and European tour of the much-loved musical.
Joel, who started dancing aged five and trained with the Gillian Cartwright School of Dance, joined the Royal Ballet School at weekends before landing a scholarship, aged 16, for the Central School of Ballet.
Joel, who is brother of Island boxer Jay Morris and credits his mum, Valerie, for his success, said: "I studied until I was 19 and then joined the London City Ballet, where I have played principal roles all around the world in ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker."
While moving back to England after living in Australia, Joel, who had been in Cats four years ago in South Africa, heard about the latest auditions.
He said: "They were the hardest auditions I had ever done, there were so many people. They took five weeks and I had to do six call-backs."
Joel eventually learnt he had been awarded the role of Mr Mistoffelees and also Carbucketty, the 'knockabout cat’ and was signed up for the 14-month tour.
Joel, who had originally planned to retire from dancing aged 30, hopes to carry on for a little longer yet and has not ruled out coming back to the Island to teach new generations of dancers.
He said: "There’s a lot of talented dancers here and nearly all of them eventually have to leave to get training. Maybe I can help them.
"It’s so beautiful here on the Island and you only really appreciate it when you come home."