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By Nina Garin
San Diego Union-Tribune
September 5, 2014

 

Fernando Martín-Gullans (Christian Rodas) 2014[San Diego, California, USA] – Fernando Martín-Gullans, is one of San Diego’s best young dancers. But he won’t be here for much longer. As a student of San Diego School of Ballet, he’s performed in a variety of shows over the years — from “The Nutcracker” to “Giselle.” He’s even appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance,” where he did a ballroom routine on live TV.

But on Sunday [September 7th ] Martín-Gullans is leaving his South Park home for the next three years to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. The 16-year-old, who trains for two to three hours each day with former Bolshoi dancer Maxim Tchernychev, tells us about a life on his toes.

Q: Do you go to traditional high school?

A: I do independent study through Mt. Everest Academy. I went to San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts briefly last year, but found it was just too difficult with my intense dance schedule. For someone dancing every day for several hours, home school seems to work best. Sometimes I miss hanging out with other students, which is one of the things that attracts me to the Royal Ballet School; there kids study and dance together.

Q: How did you first get into dance?

A: I started ballroom dancing with my older sister when I was nine. My mom’s family all dance, and she thought it would be good for me. I was doing gymnastics and rugby at the time but ended up switching to ballroom. My ballroom partner later introduced me to my ballet teacher, and eventually I chose to do ballet full-time.

Fernando Martin-Gullans and Maxim Tchernychev, San Diego School of Ballet 2012b

Q: When did ballet become more than just a hobby?

A: When I was 11, my ballet teacher told me about an audition for the Broadway musical, “Billy Elliot.” One of his former students was an original Billy in the show in New York. The casting director liked me, but thought I needed more ballet experience. So I started training more intensely. The process took a long time and by the time I was actually asked to do the role, I was hooked on ballet and had decided to become a professional ballet dancer. I ended up turning down the role so I wouldn’t have to take time away from my ballet training. Ironically, I am now going to the Royal Ballet, which is where Billy ends up in the story.

Q: Please tell us about what you’ll be doing in London.

A: I will be studying at the Royal Ballet School in London for the next three years. This July I went to their summer intensive and decided to audition for the year-round program. I was the only student accepted in my age group, which was pretty exciting.

The school is mostly made up of British students, but there are some international students like myself. We will be training about four hours a day doing classical and contemporary ballet, pas de deux, conditioning, character dancing, etc.

 

Q: What is it like to be a teen boy interested in ballet?

A: Once you learn to survive the teasing and odd looks when someone learns you’re a ballet dancer, it’s great. I meet kids from all over who are passionate about dancing just like I am, and we automatically have a lot in common. Plus, when it comes to meeting girls, the odds are definitely in our favor.

Q: How is a male dancer’s training different from a female’s?

A: Men are expected to jump higher, turn more and be more powerful overall. Girls focus more on grace, elegance, speed and extensions. Boys have more rigorous jump combinations in which they are forced to jump higher than girls. Girls tend to stay closer to the ground, but maintain a faster speed than the men.

Q: Do male dancers have the same issues — like with their feet and weight — as females?

A: I’d say we do, just not in such an extreme way. As athletes, all dancers have to eat a healthy diet so that our bodies can do what is required of them on a daily basis. All dancers get injured, so we all experience pain. Our feet aren’t cut up as badly as the girls’ feet because we don’t wear pointe shoes, but we make up for it with back injuries due to partnering.

Q: What besides dancing do you like to do?

A: I enjoy reading, playing Ping-Pong with my family, swimming, hanging out with my friends, and watching rugby with my dad. (Martín-Gullans’ father is José Martín, an assistant editor for U-T San Diego’s Spanish language publications.)

Q: What is the best advice you ever received?

A: I have received a lot of good advice, all of which is just basic, stereotypical advice. But what makes this advice so great isn’t necessarily the actual advice, but the energy in which it is presented to you. Two of my coaches over the year have really pushed me, and told me to never give up. They told me that I can do anything. I can do it! They told me that life is too short to waste time doubting myself. These men gave me the confidence to dance.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I listen to the most classic 60s, 70s, and 80s music!

Q: Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.

A: Sleep in until 9 a.m. and then straight to the beach. I love the beach! Stay there all day and into the night, and then have a bonfire. The next day I’d wake up at the same time and probably ride my bike down Mission Beach. It’s so nice down there.

 

© Copyright 2014 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC

 

Related Article: Fernando Martín-Gullans, age 13, Solo from Le Corsaire

A peak behind-the-scenes at five world-class ballet companies, One day of live streaming Wednesday, October 1st

 

World Ballet day Live

 

Bolshoi Ballet
Press release
September 8, 2014

 

The first ever World Ballet Day will see an unprecedented collaboration between five of the world’s leading ballet companies. This online event will take place on Wednesday 1 October when each of the companies will stream live behind the scenes action from their rehearsal studios.

Starting at the beginning of the dancers’ day, each of the five ballet companies — Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet — will take the lead for a four hour period streaming live from their headquarters starting with the Australian Ballet in Melbourne. The live link then passes across time zones and cultures from Melbourne to Moscow to London to Toronto to San Francisco.

The live streaming will take viewers on a journey into the rarely seen backstage lives of ballet dancers. This unusual access will throw a spot light on the differences in style between the five companies as they follow a very similar routine but approach choreography and performance in the ways that have made them unique on the world stage. Starting with morning class to warm up the body with different exercises, moving on to rehearsals for their upcoming performances the day will be a celebration of dance; the athleticism and unparalleled dedication of all those involved in creating a world-class ballet company.

Viewers will be able to engage and interact with dancers, choreographers and coaches who live and breathe ballet every day of their working lives, asking questions throughout the day as well as having the opportunity to contribute by submitting a film of themselves doing a pirouette wherever they are in the world. These will be edited into a film celebrating the worldwide appeal of dance.

The day’s streaming will be repeated on YouTube in full so that viewers around the world can catch up on any parts of the day they missed. Edited highlights will then be made available for further viewing.

World Ballet Day is a development from Royal Ballet Live which was a nine-hour live streaming via YouTube and The Guardian website in March 2012. This unique event achieved 200,000 views of the live stream and repeat broadcast and a total of 2.5 million views of YouTube Royal Ballet Live material to date. It is, however, the first time that four of the five ballet companies are taking the cameras backstage to reveal the sweat and determination of these talented dancers.

In another first, this collaboration is the first time that YouTube has streamed live more than nine hours of content.

Full details of the unique day’s activities will be available in due course.

The Bolshoi Theatre plans to mark World Ballet Day by presenting rehearsals of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s The Taming of the Shrew (the last season première) and the ballet A Legend of Love which returns to the Bolshoi Theatre Main Stage in a major revival on 23 October and, on 26 October, will be shown live in over 800 cinemas the world over.

Aidan, 13, and Avery Grierson 11, are going to study full-time at Canada's National Ballet School (Metroland News Service) 2014

 

Metroland News Service
August 27, 2014

 

[Waterloo, Ontario, Canada] – Avery Grierson’s satin slippers sagged. She felt tired and a tad homesick. So the 10-year-old Waterloo girl snuggled into her bed in summer residence at the National Ballet School in Toronto, a few blocks from old Maple Leaf Gardens. An allegro afternoon of twirls and jumps and stretches had worn her out.

Her brother Aidan, 13, quietly watched over her. Aidan bent down with aplomb and gently embraced the restless ballerina. He softly sang a lullaby to his little sister.

“Rock-a-bye, baby, on the tree top,” Aidan warbled.

“When the wind blows, the cradle will rock …” That was only weeks ago. Next Tuesday, Avery will make the Grand Jeté — the Big Leap — with her brother Aidan by her side. Both will be full-time students at the school, pirouetting for up to four hours a day while pounding the books the rest of an 11-hour schedule.

Aidan, entering his second full-time year at the national college of choreography and croisée, is in Grade 7. Avery, a newcomer to full-time tour en l’air status, is in Grade 6.

Their sibling pas de deux — not the norm, but not unheard of, school officials say — works out wonderfully as the national company aims to find and nourish the next Karen Kains and Frank Augustyns. Aidan just got his babysitting licence, he proudly proclaims.

“You don’t have to babysit me!” Avery protested as the siblings sat side-by-side in the family’s dance studio, the Classical Dance Conservatory in Waterloo, on Tuesday.

“I’ve got three counsellors with me on my floor!” Her mom Audra, a dancer who learned ballet in Montreal and went to the University of Waterloo, shakes her head. Last year, Aidan could only tease his sister parttime, during visits home. Now they are together, dancers since they were little, all week along. “He gets to tease her full-time now,” she said.

Avery, who turns 11on Thursday, can handle it. She can happily return-pester Aidan like she plucks her violin.

They’re a special pair. Every year, the school auditions 1,000 potential ballet prodigies in a 20-city tour. About 150 are invited to summer residence. From there, about 50 are selected for full-time study. Once in, you’ve got to be invited back.

Aidan got his phone call to return back in May, around his birthday. Avery got her first fulltime invitation in July.

No, it’s not cheap. The school will tell you it costs $90,000 to train a dancer for a year. With grants and donations, they whittle that down to about $32,000. Then, you can apply for financial help to get tuition lowered further.

The Griersons have been through all the steps. Don’t ask what it costs exactly. They’d rather arabesque all day than say. But you get the idea.

The kids’ stay-at-home father Todd, a former part-owner of Elmira Poultry, couldn’t say no to Avery after saying yes to Aidan. Besides, it’s a grand opportunity for two siblings who get their dancing genes from mom and their sense of balance from their one-time figure skater of a father.

“If that kind of talent and skill is in the family, it’s not uncommon for siblings to share it,” said Joanna Gertler, a ballet school spokesperson. Gertler says there are two sisters from Toronto at the school. As well, she recalls three siblings from British Columbia once attending together in a recent year.

Other students come from as far away as Taiwan and Texas. Aidan’s summer roommate Harrison — nicknamed Harry Potter for fun — came from England.

The school goes as high as Grade 12. How long a student stays depends on their passion for ballet and their progression. But the barre is set very high. Avery doesn’t know if she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up. But she knows what she’d like as gifts when she shares a birthday with her mom on Thursday. “A puppy and a gecko,” she said.

Dad shook his head. Despite what Aidan says, a gecko wouldn’t be welcome at the school. And the Griersons already have two dogs, Maggie and Brutus. But soon, within days, they’ll have two kids away during the week.

“We become empty-nesters,” Todd said. “You never think you’re going to be there, but it is what it is, right?”

 

Copyright 2014 Free Daily News Group Inc.

 

 

Originally posted on gabriellaswerling:

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Dorking Advertiser
August 21, 2014

 

Wilf Sheppard, 11,  is set to perform with the National Youth Ballet (Photo by Ashley Holmes Photography) 2014[Surrey, England] – A young ballet dancer from Dorking’s Ashcombe School is to perform in a production by the National Youth Ballet. Eleven-year-old Wilf Sheppard will perform two dances – the Dolls House Fantasia and Waking Mozart – as part of a showcase titled Beyond Ballet.

Wilf’s mother, Anthea, told the Advertiser: “We’re enormously proud of him. He’s very ambitious, he really wants to be a ballet dancer and always has done.”

This will be Wilf’s first time for the National Youth Ballet. He went through two phases of auditions before being asked to take on a main cast part.

Rehearsals have been intense but Mrs Sheppard said her son “takes it all in his stride” and isn’t fazed by the upcoming show at the end of this month.

The rising star from Buckland has been dancing since he was five years old and attends Surrey School of Ballet in Reigate and also Dance Shack in Leatherhead.

Beyond Ballet will be at The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks, on August 21, 22 and 23. There will also be a gala performance at the New Wimbledon Theatre on September 1.

For more details and the full programme, visit www.nationalyouthballet.org

Copyright 2014 Local World

By Kylie Stevens
St.Mary-Mt. Druitt Star
July 28, 2014

 

Cameron Holmes, 15, hopes to dance professionally on the world stage and dreams of one day appearing in Westside Story (photo by Helen Nezdropa) 2014[Sydney, Australia] – Anything the girls can do Cameron Holmes can do better. The Minchinbury ballet dancer, 15, made all the right move to win the silver category at the prestigious Lucie Saranova Memorial Awards.

Cameron was selected to represent NSW [New South Wales] at the national ballet competition where he impressed adjudicators Steven Heathcote and wife Katherine, former Australian Ballet Company principal artists.

The competition consisted of an open class with nine other dancers and two solo performances. “I thought I had a chance but I couldn’t believe I won,” Cameron said.

He’s been part of the Australian Ballet School’s interstate training program since 2011. He trained at the school in Melbourne earlier this month during “boys week” with younger brother Leyton, who’s also now an interstate student.

“It was an amazing experience to dance with other boys and be taught by male teachers,” Cameron said. “It was really different to my normal lessons and it was good to have my brother there too.”

Cameron has danced since he was three and has previously appeared in musicals Billy Elliott as Small Boy and as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins.

Older sister Monique starred alongside her brother in Billy Elliott.

“My mum’s a dance teacher so it all started from there,” Cameron said. “It’s fun, challenging and I like doing all the jumps and turns.”

Mum Donna has taught dance for 30 years and runs Donna Jeans Danceforce in Minchinbury.

She taught Plumpton-raised Steven McRae, who is now a principal dancer with London’s Royal Ballet.

“I’m extremely proud of Cameron,” Mrs Holmes said.”He’ll eventually move to Melbourne to train full-time.”

Cameron insisted he doesn’t get a hard time from friends.

“I go to a performing arts high school, so dance is normal for a lot of boys there,” he said.

“It’s stupid for people think ballet is only for girls. The boys have to be really strong and athletic to lift the girls.”

Copyright © 2014. Fairfax Media

 

Read more about Cameron:

On stage with Mary Poppins

Minchinbury’s own Billy Elliot

World at his feet

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