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By Lydia Johnson
Worcester News
October 17, 2014


Benjamin Sears, 10, is preparing to take on the role of Fritz in Birmingham Royal Ballet's the Nutcracker (Worcester News) 2104[Worcester, England] – A young boy will take centre stage to perform in one of the biggest Christmas ballets this year. Benjamin Sears, aged ten, who lives with family in Warndon Villages, is preparing to take on the role of Fritz in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s the Nutcracker this November.

The Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl, Clara, and her brother, Fritz, who are given a nutcracker that has magical powers.

The St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School pupil was one of a handful of dancers chosen from the Academy Dance school in Worcester to perform alongside the professionals when the show opens at the Birmingham Hippodrome on November 28 and runs until December 13.

Ben’s mother, Helen Sears, set up the Academy 22 years ago, and said she is very proud of her son’s achievement. “Ben just loves to dance, and sing, and to act. He loves the theatre. So when he was chosen for the role of Fritz in the Nutcracker he was so excited, he was jumping up and down,” she said.

Benjamin Sears, 10, loves to dance (Worcester News) 2014“He is only in the first act with eight other children, but the children have quite a big dance to perform. He has been practising hard and he knows that I’ll practise with him if he wants me too.”

Mrs Sears said the family — including husband Matt and 13-year-old son, Luke — are looking forward to seeing Ben perform.

“This will be a great experience for him and he can’t wait for it. Ben doesn’t really get nervous so I think he’ll be fine performing in front of so many people,” she said.

“As much as he really loves theatre and acting, he doesn’t really know what he wants to do in the future — but he is still only ten. While he loves the performance side of things he also really loves science and sometimes says he’d like to be an astronomer, so who knows.

“For now though he is happy to continue dancing and performing. He loves watching ballet and the Academy is like his second home. He’s made a lot of good friends there and all of them are really proud of him. We just can’t wait to see him on stage.”


Copyright 2014 Newsquest, Ltd.


Northern Ballet's Three Musketeers (Northern Ballet)


Sword fight from the dress rehearsal of Alberta Ballet's The Three Musketeers (Gavin Young, Calgary Herald) 2014

Sword fight from the dress rehearsal of Alberta Ballet’s The Three Musketeers
(Gavin Young, Calgary Herald)


See also a photograph from the Louisville Ballet’s production of The Three


KDVR, Fox 31 Denver
October 23, 2014


Twin brothers Ryder and Axel (Classical Ballet of Colorado)[Denver, Colorado, USA] — Kids today have all sorts of sports and extracurricular activities to choose from. Ballet, in particular, is one that helps kids learn discipline and concentration.

Most people think of ballet as a “girl” thing. But twin brothers have made ballet their top priority.




Watch broadcast:



Copyright © 2014, KDVR

With his father's support Yiannis Ekonomou, 11, successfully auditioned for the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker 2014

By Natalie Bomke
Good Day Chicago
October 8, 2014


Chicogo (FOX 32 News) – A Chicago father’s passion for his son’s craft has helped his little boy land one amazing role.

Most dads dream about their son becoming a star on the football field or baseball diamond. But Yiannis Ekonomou is a star on the stage. “When he first started competing a lot, I’d be meeting people, they’d be like, ‘you have a girl?’ And I would say, ‘No it’s my son and his name is Yianni.’ And they go, ‘Your boy is in dance?’ And I’d go ‘Yeah, what’s wrong with that?'” says Nicholas Ekonomou, Yiannis’ father.

At the age of 11, Yiannis has won three national dance titles. His dad’s support is no doubt part of his winning strategy. Nicholas says, “[Yiannis] eats, sleeps, dance all day long, twists and turns around the house. It never stops, never stops. You can see it’s in his heart. It’s something he was born to do.”

“I think dance is one of the coolest things on Earth and I don’t know what I would do without it,” Yiannis says. And now, Yiannis is part of a first for Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. He will be performing in two roles in the upcoming Nutcracker.

Katie Kirwin, the Children’s Ballet Mistress for Joffrey says, “during the run of the program, he’s dancing two roles in the first act and a role in the second act. Which is just a little more dancing than most kids.”

It also means an additional day of practice each week, on top of the 20 to 30 hours Yiannis spends at his dance company.

Yiannis’ father Nicholas grew up in a family of Greek immigrants who he says didn’t push him to pursue sports of the arts. That’s why he believes his role in Yiannis’ life is the most important part he’ll every play.

You can see Yiannis perform in Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” December 5th through the 28th. Single tickets are on sale right now, starting at $32 dollars. Click here for more details.


© Copyright 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc


Read more about Yiannis: Youngster hopes to make dancing a career

by Seema Hakim
Thurrock Gazette
October 16, 2014


Joel Tokan, 9. has won a place with the RBS Junior Associate Programme 2014b[Thurrock, England] – A nine-year-old boy has danced his way to the Royal Ballet School in London. Joel Tokan, who lives with his mum and dad in Chadwell St Mary, was chosen out of 900 youngsters to take a place on the school’s junior associate programme.

Joel, who goes to Herringham Primary Academy, in St Marys Road, won a place after impressing teachers while attending the Royal Opera House’s Chance to Dance scheme, which lasted for 18 months.

He said: “I’m gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe that I got a place at first. I thought one of the others was going to get it. But I’m really happy.”

The programme started in September and sees Joel travelling to Covent Garden every Saturday morning for lessons and rehearsals.

The junior associate programme offers promising dance students between the ages of eight and 15 classical ballet training in centres across the UK, while they continue their academic studies at school.

Joel’s parents Charline and Boomy Tokan said they were delighted with the nine-year-old’s achievements.

Mrs Tokan, 47, added: “I’m very proud. He was chosen out of so many boys. He’s really enjoying it, I am extremely proud of him.”

Jillian Barker, director of learning and participation at the Royal Opera House, said: “It is wonderful to see how undiscovered talent in Thurrock is now being nurtured through this programme. It’s been up and running in South London for almost 25 years and only recently have we expanded Chance to Dance to include Thurrock.”


Copyright 2014 Newsquest, Ltd.




By Evan F. Moore
Southtown Star
October 7, 2014



Yiannis Ekonomou, 11, is a rising star (Southtown Star) 2014[Orland Park, Illinois] – If you happen to watch “Dancing With The Stars” or “America’s Got Talent” in the upcoming years, you might see Orland Park resident Yiannis Ekonomou as a contestant. The 11-year-old boy’s resume is impressive. He has been dancing since he was 5.

“He was always dancing around the house,” Nicholas, Yiannis’ father, said. “We took him to a dance lesson one day and he liked it.”

Ekonomou said he saw something special in his son and knew that dance wouldn’t be a passing fad for him. “You can see it was something that came from his heart,” Ekonomou said. “He has a natural talent, and he can elevate himself.”

This summer, Yiannis won two national dance titles for his hip hop and contemporary solos as well as several judges’ choice awards in multiple competitions. He also danced in fundraisers sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Safstrom Children Education Fund.

He performed in the 2013 Nutcracker with the Joffrey Ballet as the lead boy in the party scene.

The Century Junior High School student has a strict regimen that requires him to train 15 to 20 hours a week.

“When I started doing hip-hop, at that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” Yiannis said. “I love dancing.”

Alyssa Johnson, the artistic director and owner of Perfection Dance Artistry in Palos Heights, has Yiannis as a student in her contemporary jazz and power company class. She said she knew he was something special during their first session. “For a young gentleman, he is dedicated to this,” Johnson said. “I was impressed the first day he came into my basement. He picked up right away.”

She also said that she was surprised at Yiannis’ drive at that age.“If you tell him to do something, he picks up the correction right away. In this industry, you’re looking for a kid that knows what he wants,” she said.

Yiannis’ parents support his dancing but have stressed that he must maintain good grades in school if he wants to keep his demanding schedule. Ekonomou said his son also plays soccer and is taking piano lessons.

Yiannis’ goal is to become a professional dancer and join “Dancing with the Stars” as a choreographer. His other favorite shows are “Dance Moms” and “So You Think You Can Dance?”

“I look at their (dancers’) technique. I look at how they do things,” he said.

Yiannis said he gets plenty of support from his classmates at school.“They think it’s pretty cool because they’ve seen me on TV auditioning,” he said.


© Copyright 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC



Harly Videan, 10, is preparing to take to the stage in Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies


By Carys Lewis
Wales Online
September 17, 2014


Harly Videan has been selected to perform in Matthew Bourne's Lord of the Flies (Wales Online) 2014[Maesteg,Wales] – A schoolboy dancer is set to wow the crowds at South Wales’ premier theatre after pirouetting his way into a sought-after part. Ten-year-old Harly Videan is proving himself to be Maesteg’s answer to Billy Elliott after he beat off stiff competition to be selected as one of the dancers in Matthew Bourne’s production of Lord of the Flies.

The world-renowned choreographer is responsible for the ground-breaking choreography in the male version of Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and for his latest production, which will be performed at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff from October 22 to 25, Bourne opened up auditions to local talent, allowing youngsters from South Wales to vie for the chance of working with industry professionals.

Harly, who honed his skills at Maesteg-based Sian Dixon School of Dance, impressed judges in a series of audition rounds throughout the summer holidays and is now preparing to take to the iconic stage.

Proud dad Warren of Castle Street in the town, said: “Harly has taken his dancing very seriously since he was about four years old and by the age of five he was able to Moonwalk and was copying many of Michael Jackson’s dance routines.

“He progressed to all sorts of amazing moves and dancing techniques that we had never heard of, and by the age of eight he was entering Britain’s Got Talent. He was rejected and this was an earth-shattering moment for him where he was inconsolable for around two days.

“We approached Sian of The Sian Dixon School of Dance and she gave Harly her professional opinion. She said he was not engaging with the crowd, was looking down at his feet, his poise was not good enough and some other pointers. But she said that he has potential and that she could work with him.

“With Harly being used to being turned down we thought there would be no harm in him auditioning for The Matthew Bourne production of The Lord of the Flies. He got through one stage, then another and then another and then he was in. When he got in he was bouncing around the room.”

The 41-year-old, who is also dad to Lola, nine, added: “His mother Louise and I are so proud of him that we feel like crying – he is an amazing boy and we wish him all the best. We just can’t wait for opening night now. Sian has organised a bus, so he’s going to have lots of local support there. We would like to thank Sian for all her hard work with him too.”

Dance teacher Sian Dixon added: “This is an amazing experience for Harly and is one I’m sure he will cherish for many years to come. To be able to perform with professional dancers in such an iconic theatre on such an exciting project is truly thrilling.We wish him all the success and are looking forward to watching him perform in October.”

Lord Of The Flies will be at the Wales Millennium Centre from October 22 to 25. Call 029 2063 6464 or visit

© 2014 Media Wales Ltd


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