Katrina's talent shines through in Matthew Bourne's iconic Swan Lake
Coming home is a pleasant reality check for former television talent show competitor Katrina Lyndon.
The Lyric at the Theatre Royal Plymouth will be packed with loyal and friendly faces when the dancer takes to the stage in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake tonight.
It's a reminder that, despite the ups and downs of TV audience voting and judging, she has a solid fan base in her home city.
"The last time I was at the Theatre Royal there were something like 200 people I knew who were in the audience," laughs the former So You Think You Can Dance? competitor.
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The band of admirers is swelled by many from her mother Sharon's Classique Academy in the city. Katrina trained there until the age of 13 when she left home in Plympton to join the Royal Ballet School.
At 18 she went on to Central Ballet School and found herself in the TV spotlight in May 2011 at the age of 20 when she competed in series two of the BBC dance programme. The ballerina made it through five weeks of competition before being voted off – and finding little had changed.
"I was on my own again straight away," she recalls. "It was as if So You Think You Can Dance? had never happened.
"I was back going through auditions with everybody else. I don't feel as if it changed anything."
Such shows are designed primarily to make good TV rather than discover new stars. Facing frequently harsh words from judges and ultimately being rejected by the audience were not that different from the tough world of auditioning, though.
"The show did give me a heightened sense of that. But as a dancer you are your own biggest critic. You have to be to improve."
That makes knowing that there are friendly faces out there all the more rewarding when Katrina steps out on to the stage at the TRP.
"It does make a difference," she says. "In a long run or on a long tour it helps you feel fresh.
"During the wait to go on you get more excited."
Of course having probably the most famous name in contemporary choreography as a fan is a help, too: Bourne is one of those who really does think she can dance. This is the second time she has appeared in a New Adventures production.
Katrina was in Nutcracker! at the TRP in April last year. "I kept in touch and kept doing classes with the company," she explains.
"Then I got an email saying he would love to have me in Swan Lake."
The Bourne take on the Tchaikovsky ballet was a bold move that proved a worldwide hit in 1995. His mould-breaking interpretation with the male chorus of swans has come of age now at 18, but has not lost its freshness, says Katrina.
With so much attention focused on the men by critics, you would be forgiven for thinking that there is no place for a female ballerina.
"The ratio of men to women is much higher, but the female dancers have a lot of input into the story line," says Katrina, who alternates between roles as the German and Spanish princesses and has other minor parts including a butterfly and a troll.
"We have to help create the atmosphere.
"Matthew's made a few changes, updating a bit and renewing it."
What hasn't changed is the strong emphasis on acting. "He is so good on the acting side. He makes you feel at ease and helps you bring out the character," says Katrina.
"I love the show. When I first saw the men rehearsing it was amazing. They are so powerful."
Katrina is contracted until September next year, allowing for any extension to the tour that is scheduled to finish next summer.
After that she will be homing in on those who might become the next generation of performers – Katrina is a frequent visitor to her mother's dance school and also choreographs work for young stars throughout Devon.
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake opens tonight at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and continues until October 26.