SCOTTISH Ballet dancer Remi Andreoni had a birthday surprise for his parents

Ballet dancer Remi Andreoni had a birthday surprise for his parents after they made a 1000 mile journey from the south of France to help him celebrate in Inverness last week.It was only when his parents, Marie-Claude and Jean, sat down in Eden Courts Empire Theatre on Thursday, that they found Remi was making his debut as the male lead in Tchaikovskys "The Nutcracker".

Remi, who has been dancing with Scottish Ballet for three years, made his matinée debut as the Prince on his 26th birthday and though his parents had already planned to make the journey from their home city of Toulouse to join him in Inverness, they had no inkling of his principal role.

"It was a total surprise for them," Remi said afterwards.

"I booked their trip one month ago, then a week ago I looked at the dance list and saw that I was playing the Prince. It was hard to keep it a secret from them, but exciting and challenging at the same time."

Though Remi joined his parents for lunch at a riverside restaurant to mark his birthday, he had little opportunity to show them around the Highlands as they had to fly back to France the following day.

"We love coming to this city," Remi added.

"Inverness is probably the most pretty city of the whole tour."

However, his parents might have left Scotland with the impression that their son has become very immersed in Scottish culture. Remi is the poster boy for Scottish Ballet’s forthcoming "Highland Fling", which comes to Eden Court in May, and features Remi in a kilt.

"A kilted Frenchman," he laughed.

"Now I’m proper Scottish."