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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

Dance Aotearoa New Zealand
Press Release
September 16, 2014


Salem Foxx (DANZ) 2014[New Zealand] – As a toddler with Aspergers Syndrome, Salem Foxx would communicate by hitting and screaming. Now 14 years old, Salem takes the stage as a disciplined ballet dancer, expressing himself through his talent and passion for movement.

The Kapiti Coast dancer is a finalist in the Artistic Achievement category in the 2014 Attitude Awards. The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of disabled kiwis.

Salem’s talent has seen him earn distinctions in dance exams, win top placings in dance competitions and be selected by the Royal New Zealand Ballet to perform in four of its productions. Not limited to just one style of dance, he combines his love for ballet with contemporary, jazz, lyrical, tap and even acrobatic dance.

This year marked a pinnacle in Salem’s achievements. After auditioning alongside hundreds of other hopefuls, he was selected by the New Zealand School of Dance as a Junior Associate in contemporary dance. He was one of only three contemporary juniors and the only male.

A role model to other young dancers, Salem’s blog balletboyznz is read by passionate dancers worldwide and is being included as resource material at the prestigious London Boys Ballet School.

Salem’s dream is to forge an international dance career for himself. He says; “Even though I have Aspergers Syndrome, I won’t let that get in my way of my goal.”

Salem being an Attitude Awards finalist is testament to his determination. He will find out if he has won the award at a black-tie gala on World Disability Day, 3 December at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre.


Copyright 2014 DANZ


Read more about Salem:

Youngster to perform with the Royal New Zealand Ballet

Youngster wins dance scholarship


By Chelsea Thomas
Dance Informa Magazine
September 3, 2014


Ryan Vetter with a partner (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)Originally from South Dakota, Ryan Vetter now dances with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Since joining the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division in 2008, he has performed in company productions such as Giselle, Moulin Rouge – The Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker.

Now part of the corps de ballet, Vetter is slowly on the rise, reaching for the stars and continuing to push himself ever further. Here, he shares his story with Dance Informa.

Ryan, you are a South Dakota native. When/where did you start dancing there?

“Yes! I was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I started dancing at my local studio, The Dance Gallery, under the direction of Jackie Kriens and Rebecca Hansen at the age of 7. My parents used to see me dancing around the house all the time. The thing that really pushed me to dance, though, was seeing the movie Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly in the scene with the umbrella dancing in the rain. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a dancer.”

When you were still young and in training, what were your favorite styles? Why?

“Honestly, I don’t mean to sound like a bunhead, but ballet was definitely my favorite. I loved the challenge and the structure of it all. It was something I really wanted to achieve greatness in.”

As a male dancer, were there any special obstacles you faced or challenges you had? How did you overcome them?

“Well, there’s the obvious one. Growing up in South Dakota, not a lot of people know about ballet, and especially boys in the ballet. Bullying was inevitable, but it never really bothered me. I knew what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t going to let that stop me.”

When did you know that dance was what you wanted to pursue professionally? Was there a big “a-ha” moment?

“It all happened rather quickly, actually. I don’t think there was time for a real ‘a-ha’ moment. The story my parents love to tell is, when I got accepted to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School they told me to really think about it and decide if it was what I truly wanted to do. This was due to the fact that they would be investing a lot of money into my schooling if I decided yes. They wanted to know for sure that their money was going to be well spent. My parents always taught me to count my pennies, so even as a 13-year-old boy I understood. I went to my room, for no longer than five minutes, and came back upstairs and told them that, in fact, yes, this was exactly what I wanted to do.”

As you sought to become a professional ballet dancer, did you supplement your training with any other arts or sports training?

“Not really, the school has a very full schedule, so there wasn’t a lot of time for other training or competitions. I will say that now, as a company member, I have joined a gym to do some cross training, which I am very much enjoying.”

What was it like getting accepted to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School? How long were you a student there?

“Getting accepted into the school was so surreal to me. I was still new to the whole concept of professional ballet training, so in my head I kept thinking, ‘I get to live on my own, and just study ballet all day?! Am I dreaming?!’ That isn’t to say I disliked my parents or my family. I love them, and I owe them everything, but I was very independent as a child.

I was a student for four years in the Ballet Academic program. I graduated with Distinction and spent one year in the Aspirant program before joining the company the following season. My experience in the school was fantastic. The training was tough, but I like to think that I came out of the school a very disciplined, hard-working and strong dancer, both technically and mentally.

The hardest part of ballet school wasn’t the steps. The hard part was how I dealt with them, when the work got difficult. The most important thing I gained from ballet school was how to keep a positive attitude and learning that getting frustrated doesn’t help you, at all.”

How did the RWB Aspirant program help launch your career?

Ryan Vetter, as styled by Club Monaco (Réjean Brandt Photography)“The Aspirant program was a great asset to helping me begin my career. You learn how a company works and it’s the time when a student begins to blossom into an artist.”

Were you surprised when you were later promoted to be an apprentice with the company?

“I was, but if I’m being honest, I was more surprised when I got promoted into the corps de ballet two months after that season started!”

What have been some of your favorite roles/works to perform?

“I find something I love in everything I do. Have I performed my dream role yet? Or the role I was ‘born to do’? I don’t think so, but I always find something I love in every piece or every ballet that I do.”

What are some roles/works that you dream of performing one day?

“All the princes, just all of them. Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Romeo & Juliet. My fantastic four. My own personal ‘dream-team.’ Another couple of dream ballet’s of mine are Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room and Rudi van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs.”

This coming 2014-15 season, what are you excited to perform with RWB?

“I’m very much excited for our whole season this year! After all, it’s our 75th anniversary! I’m proud to be a part of the longest running company on a continually operating basis in North America. That’s quite a mouthful, but very impressive!”

You have also done some choreography. Do you hope to present more of your work in the future?

“I surprisingly get this question a lot. Choreography is something that they encouraged at our school. I just tried it out because I knew I would have regretted turning down a chance to explore something different. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but let’s just say I don’t think we’ll be seeing any productions by Ryan Vetter in the near future.”

Overall, what are some future ambitions you have? What are your hopes for your career?

“I want to continue working hard. I want to keep growing within the company. I just want to keep doing what I’m already doing, which is dancing. And when I feel like I need to stop, I’ll retire. But I want that to be a long time from now.”

© 2014 Dance Informa Magazine


Read more about Ryan:

To dance forever

Sioux Falls dancer following dream



Read more about  Collin: Youngster performs in OBT’s Nutcracker






Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

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.


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