Irish ballerina Monica Loughman has teamed up with British dancer Wayne Sleep to train a group of plus-sized dancers to dance a specially-choreographed version of 'Swan Lake' in a new reality TV show starting tonight on Channel 4. 'Big Ballet' sets out to challenge the notion that only the super-thin can dance.

Both Sleep and Loughman know what it's like to face prejudice in the ballet world. The shortest male dancer ever to attend the Royal Ballet School, Sleep often missed out on dance parts because of his height. Loughman travelled to Russia at the age of 14 to train at the Perm State Ballet School, where she was bullied for her lack of Russian. Two years later she became the first non-Russian to join the Perm State Ballet Company.

In this TV clip, a 19-year-old Monica Loughman talks to Clare O'Dea about how homesick she felt during her early days in Russia. O'Dea was reporting for 'Nationwide' on the Perm State Ballet's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' in the Cork Opera House.

This episode of 'Nationwide' was broadcast on 29 October 1997.

Monica Loughman, Perm State Ballet