For a young ballet dancer, the part of Billy Elliott might seem like a dream role. But for 16-year-old Mexican dancer Esteban Hernandez, Broadway fame came second to serious training with the Royal Ballet.
"When I got the role on Broadway, I was still very young, I was 14," he said. "Those years are the formative ones for a ballet dancer. It's so important to have good training.
The Nobel Prize committee praised him as a writer “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”
Born in 1930 in Hackney, Harold Pinter attended Hackney Downs school and then pursued a career on stage, screen and as a writer. He became known for plays including The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, as well as The Homecoming, for which he won a Tony award.
Arthur Miller was well into his seventies when he decided to write a play that focused on antisemitism. It turned out to be the first work that sprung from the core of his Jewishness. True, his canon already included Incident at Vichy, a sideways look at European antisemitism. There was also his only novel, Focus. Published after the war, the book dealt with the American brand of Jew-hatred. But it was not until the 1990s, with a play that was first called The Man in Black, then Gellburg and finally Broken Glass that Miller confronted the subject head on.
The composer made just five dollars from his first song but later became an American musical legend.
Turned down for a job by Irving Berlin when he was 20, George Gershwin was told: “You’re meant for big things.” The prophecy came true.
The son of immigrants from Russia, Jacob Gershowitz left school at 15 and began writing popular tunes for Broadway musicals, concert hall shows and operas. In 1927 Fred Astaire took to the stage in Funny Face, a musical Gershwin wrote in collaboration with his elder brother Ira. It was one of several successes they had together.