EVER since she was a little girl, Jessica Ellen had dreams of performing in a West End production.
It’s an ambition that stayed with her throughout childhood and into her adult life.
Now, as Jessica, 26, looks set to take centre stage in the world première of West End musical, From Here to Eternity later this month, she has looked back fondly on her early days as a pupil striving for excellence at Littlehampton’s Dance Industry.
Jessica, formerly of Horsham Road, Littlehampton, said: “I started training at Dance Industry when I was just two-and-a-half.
“It was my life. Every night I would get in from school, get changed and head straight here.
“I didn’t go out and play around, I was always coming to Dance Industry because I loved it. I always dreamt of performing on the West End.”
And on Friday (August 2), Jessica returned to her dancing roots, at Dance Industry’s Sparks Court home, to play her part in inspiring the school’s current crop of students.
She was passing on her knowledge to dozens of pupils taking part in the school’s five-day summer school.
Jessica, who led the aspiring dancers through a variety of styles, from tap to hip-hop, and jazz-modern to ballet, said: “It was great to be back with everyone.
“It’s so weird, though. Many of the pupils were just little children when I was here. So to see some of them all grown-up, and see how far they have come, is lovely.”
Jessica left the school when she was 18 to study dance at Chichester College, before moving on to study it at Bird College of Dance, Music and Theatre Performance in London.
Soon after graduating, she landed her first major role performing nationwide in Cabaret, alongside chart-topping singer Will Young.
“To get into the West End is a dream come true for me,” she admitted. “But it’s really demanding, both physically and mentally.
“But I just love it. I live for the moment when you’re on stage. Every time it’s different, whether it is your first night or your 50th.”
School principal, Muriel Bordenave, said: “There are some people you can see are talented, from an early age – Jess was one of those.
“She was very determined and knew her goals and exactly what she wanted.
“It’s lovely to see her so successful and a real joy to have her back with us.”