Cheryl aspired to be like prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn as a child

She switched to admiring Britney Spears and Beyonce as she got older.

Cheryl has told of her desire to be like prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn while taking ballet lessons in her youth.

The singer and former Girls Aloud star is one of the dance captains on new BBC primetime series The Greatest Dancer, alongside Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse and Glee and Broadway star Matthew Morrison.

Although known for her street dance style routines in her music videos and stage performances, Cheryl had early aspirations to follow in the footsteps of Dame Margot, who was a prima ballerina at the Royal Ballet and is considered one of the greatest British ballerinas of all time.

Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2018 – Day Two – O2 Arena – London
Cheryl at the Jingle Bell Ball (Ian West/PA)

Cheryl said: “I’ve danced since I was three years old and I’m classically trained in ballet.

“I wanted to be a ballerina until I was about 12, and I’ve always had a passion for dance in every style, shape and form.”

She said her dance teacher in her early ballet classes was “inspiring”, and added: “I wanted to be like Margot Fonteyn when I was younger.

“As I got older it was Britney and Beyonce who I looked up to – their routines were amazing.”

Ballet – “Paradise Lost” Rehearsal – Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev – Covent Garden, London
Margot Fonteyn dancing with Rudolf Nureyev during a rehearsal of Roland Petit’s Paradise Lost at Covent Garden in London in 1967 (PA Archive/PA)

Cheryl, who was previously a judge on ITV singing competition The X Factor, said she has “always wanted to be part of a dance show”.

“I feel like a platform such as The Greatest Dancer for dancers in the UK was needed.”

The programme will see a studio audience pick which hopeful contestants get the chance to go through to the live stage of the show, where the dance captains will each take on a mentoring role.

The winner, who will be voted for by the public, will win £50,000 and the chance to perform on Strictly Come Dancing as a guest.

Cheryl said she is looking for “passion and performance” in the contestants, and that she feels contemporary dance is “underrated and underappreciated”.

She added: “During the audition process I did see some contemporary dance styles that moved me more than I anticipated they would.”

– The Greatest Dancer begins on Saturday January 5 at 8pm on BBC One.

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