AN ANDOVER teenager has landed a dream scholarship to attend ballet school in Chicago.

16-year-old Ruben Mariner-Barbeito from Andover started attending a Strictly Come Dancing after school club when he was nine years old, and his dance school noticed that he had something special.

He was encouraged to apply to the distinguished Royal Ballet School in White Lodge where he was granted a place.

Ruben never looked back and was recently offered an artistic scholarship to attend Joffrey Ballet school in Chicago to study classical ballet.

The scholarship only covers the course fees, however, leaving his parents struggling to work out how they will pay for the accommodation and living costs.

The family set up a fundraising page, and have been delighted by the generosity of individuals and groups, including from Ruben's dad Chris Mariner's ice hockey club which, along its sponsor, KJM Windows, made donation to the cause.

“They have been brilliant, I can’t thank them enough,” Chris told the Advertiser.

As a thank you, Ruben gave a beginner’s ballet class to his Dad’s ice hockey team, the Basingstoke Cougars, on Wednesday (June 2) which his Dad says they all enjoyed, though he admits a there were a few aches and pains the following day.

Chris said: “We don’t really bend like that these days!"

Ruben gave a ballet lesson to the Basingstoke Cougars ice hockey team as a thank you for their donation

Ruben gave a ballet lesson to the Basingstoke Cougars ice hockey team as a thank you for their donation

Ruben’s dad added that his son is “very excited and very nervous” about attending the prestigious American dance school.

To get a place, Ruben had to do a ballet routine in his kitchen over Microsoft Teams, with a pianist in Chicago playing the accompanying music through the video link, which his father described as “quite an abnormal experience.”

Asked whether dancing runs in the family, his Dad replied: “No, we don’t know where his talent comes from. I have two left feet. His Mum says she can dance but there’s not dancing in the family.”

To donate to Ruben’s fund and help him pursue his dream, visit: