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By Audrey H. Heart

Investigative Reporter

In two days The Royal Opera House will present the biggest event the ballet world has seen since Nureyev appeared on the London stage for the first time in 1961.

Harry Styles, England's prodigal son, has returned. The 23-year-old virtuoso has been dancing in Moscow with the Bolshoi Ballet his entire professional career. The Royal Ballet's production of Swan Lake will mark his first performance in his homeland. It will also mark the first time he has worked with his legendary predecessor and mentor, Alexander Beauchamp, who was brought onto the production late as guest choreographer, replacing Maurice Charrat.

Styles is the epitome of success with a career that has eclipsed all of his peers. His preternatural abilities, theatricality and offstage antics have catapulted him into the mainstream consciousness. His image is splashed across magazine covers alongside rock stars and movie stars. He is the most highly paid dancer in the world and this is evident in his London flat, a luxury two-story loft overlooking the Thames.

In person, he is regal and calm with lustrous dark curls that rest on his broad shoulders like a lion's mane, and a five thousand quid suit sleek as a second skin.

On the surface he appears to have the perfect life but all is not what it seems. Styles suffers from night terrors, insomnia and chronic depression. His training regimen borders on masochistic and he is on a bevy of pharmaceuticals to numb his constant pain. All these issues, he claims, stem from the abuse he suffered as a teenager at the hands of his former mentor, now colleague, Alexander Beauchamp.

"He raped me."

The words surprise Styles as they escape his lips, as though he'd never dared utter them aloud before.

The revelation is especially shocking in light of their history. Styles was known as one of Beauchamp's prized pupils at The Royal Ballet School. Though Styles is reluctant to admit it, Beauchamp's influence on him is profound. Styles' career is almost a mirror image of Beauchamp's. Both trained at The Royal Ballet School in London before being hired by world famous companies straight out of school where they quickly rose up the ranks to principal dancer and then to the top of their profession.

Styles' dancing is almost always discussed in connection with Beauchamp's as though they are two sides of the same coin.

"I've never seen him dance," Styles says. "There are videos but I won't watch them. The truth is, I'm afraid I'll see myself in him."

But their dancing is where they differ. Beauchamp is a showman, feeding off the audience's love for him. Styles dances only for himself. Watching him feels like intruding into his dark heart.

The abuse began on a trip to Paris. Styles was handpicked by Beauchamp to accompany him to opening night of Swan Lake at the Paris Opera Ballet, a great honor for a young dancer. He was told by Beauchamp that instead of a hotel reserved by the school, he would be staying in the apartment Beauchamp shared with his wife, famed ballerina Irina Beauchamp. When they arrived in Paris, however, he was taken to another apartment, a one-bedroom where he and Beauchamp would stay alone.

"Alexander wouldn't just lie to me, he would tell lies within lies."

As Styles begins to describe what happened to him in that Paris apartment, his partner Louis Tomlinson holds his hand. Like Styles, Tomlinson is a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet and a former pupil of Beauchamp. He is a compact and athletic dancer with bright blue eyes and winning smile that fades when Styles speaks of the past.

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