A TALENTED Netherton teenager, dubbed the Billy Elliot of the Black Country, has won a coveted place to study at the English National Ballet School in London.

James Garrington, aged 16, is one of a handful of dancers around the world to win a place to study at the prestigious dance school from September.

The teen began dancing as an infant and joined the Debonaire Dance Academy in Cradley Heath aged six, which he still attends.

James has trained and performed with some of the most famous dance troupes in the country, such as the Alba Ballet Company, English Youth Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Disneyland Paris.

James' feat comes after he faced an uncertain start in life, as having been born two months premature in June 2003, he spent four months in the Special Care Baby Unit at the former Wordsley Hospital.

Baby James weighed only two pounds and six ounces and could fit in his father Patrick's hand.

Caroline Garrington, James' mum, said: "We weren’t sure if there were going to be long term effects, but the nurses at Wordsley were fantastic."

His proud dad Patrick Garrington added: "It was touch and go, he was in a serious position, but he was so well looked after by the hospital.

"He’s gone from a little baby who could fit in the palm of my hand, and now he’s as fit as a fiddle."

James, who studied at the former Hillcrest School before moving to the Birmingham Ormiston Academy, is now preparing to move from the Black Country to London where he will spend three years immersed in learning all forms of dance alongside his beloved ballet.

He said: "It's quite daunting to move to London aged 16, more so than going to the school but I’m really excited and I hope it goes well."

James took on a gruelling series of auditions to win the place, which saw him battle it out with other hopefuls via video and live performances.

He discovered he had achieved a place earlier this summer, right before taking on his GCSE's.

He said: "I wasn’t holding my breath, I was so surprised when I found out I had got in.

"I hope one day to dance for a company, but I'll see where the next three years take me."

The opportunity to study at the acclaimed school does not come cheap, so a Crowdfunding page has been set up to help towards James' fees, equipment and living costs, with the goal of raising £18,000.

The page can be found at http://bit.ly/2Yrf40K.

Writing on the page, James' godfather Richard Humphries, said: "James has succeeded through his own determination, and this is why it would be so frustrating for him not to take his passions further just because of funding. This is why we are asking for your support and thank all those who can help! Donations will go towards tuition fees, accommodation, food, travel, ballet shoes, dance clothing and medical costs."

Thanking his family and dance teachers for their continued support, James added: "Thank you to everyone for supporting me. I've had so many people helping me along the way. It’s amazing to be able to open the door to the future."

Caroline said: "He’s worked so hard over the last few years, we’re so proud of him."

Patrick added: "When it’s something that he loves he’s incredibly focussed. He keeps coming up trumps with it."