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By R. Whitehouse
The West Briton
May 13, 2015


Morgan Wright, 10, has earned a place at Elmhurst School for dance this September (The West Briton News) 2015[Cornwall, England] – A young ballet dancer from St Agnes has been selected for a place at a prestigious dance school. Morgan Wright, 10, has been given a place at the Elmhurst Dance School which is a centre for professional ballet and an associate school of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The youngster said he was looking forward to taking up his place at Elmhurst and taking the next step towards becoming a professional performer.

Morgan has been training and performing since the age of five with Jason Thomas Performing Arts based in Truro, and has been developing his dance skills a across a number of disciplines such as contempary, classical ballet, street dance and musical theatre.

He has already performed at local venues such as the Hall for Cornwall through to Sadlers Wells London and competed in regional and national competitions.

Morgan Wright, 10, will attend the Elmhurst School for dance this September (The West Briton News) 2015It was two years ago with Jason’s guidance that Morgan discovered and auditioned for the Elmhurst Associate Programme in Plymouth and has been attending lessons every Sunday being taught by Miss Lyndsay.

In addition Morgan got the chance to complete several intensive weekends at Elmhurst the purpose built ballet school where he made the decision that it was his desire to further his skills and experience.

He will spend three years starting from September honing his craft with some of the best teachers in the business, the classes are led by professional practitioners and they focus on developing performance skills, teamwork, confidence and self-esteem to take that next step in performing.

Copyright © 2015 Local World




Choreographer Joshua Bergasse, left, teaching David Alvarez steps for his swing role in On the Town (Sara Krulwich, The New York Times) 2015


By Gia Kourlas
New York Times
April 24, 2015


[New York City, New York, USA] – “Are you O.K.?” the choreographer Joshua Bergasse asked his newest dancer during a recent rehearsal for “On the Town” at the Lyric Theater. “Do you want to breathe for a minute? Take a minute. Get some water.”

In other words, if you don’t tell David Alvarez, a swing in the show, to take a break, he won’t.

Being a swing, a performer responsible for learning multiple ensemble roles, for “On the Town,” an athletic, jazz-influenced ballet show, is grueling, yet not even close to some of the punishing physical acts Mr. Alvarez, 20, has put himself through. Mr. Alvarez spent three years of his childhood at another Broadway theater starring as Billy Elliot, the irrepressible British boy seduced by ballet. When he was nearly 16, he took his final bow and finished high school. And then he joined the Army.

“Ballet and ‘Billy Elliot’ prepared me to pass every possible training in the Army,” Mr. Alvarez said after a rehearsal. “When I did basic training, I always thought, this is hard but it’s not ‘Billy Elliot’ hard.”

Context helps put “ ‘Billy’ hard” into perspective: Basic training could mean 300 push-ups in the middle of the night, sleeping for 30 minutes and then having a five-mile run. “All I remember is how hungry I was,” Mr. Alvarez said with a friendly smile.

In 2009, Mr. Alvarez won a Tony, along with Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, with whom he alternated in the part. (Mr. Kowalik is now a sophomore at Princeton University, and Mr. Kulish acts and competes in ballroom dance.) Yes, Mr. Alvarez is aware that he’s in a strange position: He has gone from starring in a musical to joining the military, only to make his return to the stage in a musical about the military. And just how many Tony-winning swings are there on Broadway?

But the strapping Mr. Alvarez — he has blossomed from a ballet waif into a muscular, self-assured young man with the same dark curls — doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about being a swing after having been a Broadway star. “I feel like people think I should, and some people want me to,” he said. “But I don’t care. I’m just an average guy. Just because I have a Tony doesn’t make me any different or better than any other performer.”

After such acclaim, Mr. Alvarez’s decision to join the Army after high school might have seemed like an unusual career move, but it was always part of his plan. “I’ve wanted to join the Army since I was 13 or 14,” he said. “I knew the experience would be an unforgettable one and something that would teach me a lot about myself and help me grow.”

After basic training, he was part of the 25th Infantry Division stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, where he was selected for a reconnaissance platoon and trained as a sniper. During that time, a two-and-a-half-year contract, he was sent abroad but declined to disclose details, citing personal security reasons.

“When I went through basic training and through recon trials, I was always a good shot,” he said. “I never planned to be assigned as a sniper at all; I just wanted to go infantry, but I’m a weird guy: I always like a challenge.”

He realized that the best soldiers were slim like him — “they could be dancers,” he said. At the same time, the Army toughened his body up. “Sleeping outside for 30 days at a time, walking around with 200 pounds of gear — it’s really rough,” he said. “In Fort Wainwright, it’s cold, and I remember we’d be out on the field for 30 to 45 days in almost negative-60 degrees. It’s all psychological; it’s about pulling through. After the Army, I know the difference between just hurting and an injury.”

His intention had always been to return to Broadway after the Army to try acting as an adult. For now, he’s dancing and will perform in “On the Town” through mid-June, after having successfully filled in as a last-minute replacement in February.

But his real ambition is to act, especially in films. “It’s not that I don’t love dancing, it’s that I love acting more,” he said. “When I did ‘Billy Elliot,’ I completely fell in love with getting all of my emotions out and developing a character. That’s what I’d like to get back into.”

Mr. Alvarez found his way to “On the Town” through the show’s associate choreographer, Greg Graham, who was a dance captain on “Billy Elliot.” (Stephen Hanna, who played the older Billy in the musical, is also in “On the Town.”) His transformation, Mr. Graham said, has impressed him. “It was like your little brother who goes away,” he said, “and you see him again and he’s a grown man and he’s taller than you.”

Born in Montreal to Cuban parents, Mr. Alvarez began his dance training in San Diego. When he was 11, he auditioned for and was accepted to American Ballet Theater’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York, where his family moved. He was a student there when he joined the cast of “Billy Elliot.”

“His jumps are so high, and his turns are so clean,” said Mr. Bergasse, who likes his performers to have a strong ballet foundation. “He is so focused and determined — you just admire him for this work ethic he has. I like men who are kind of daredevils, which I think David really is.”

Mr. Alvarez now wears a wristband, a gift from an Army friend, printed with three words: “Fear Is Dead.” He said most of his fellow soldiers didn’t find out about his “Billy Elliot” past until after he left the Army. “My first sergeant announced it,” he said. “I wasn’t there, thank God, but everyone texted me. I just wanted people to see me for who I was.”


© 2015 The New York Times Company


Shaakir and Naazir Muhammad at ABT (CBS News) 2015


60 Minutes
CBS News
May 10, 2015


Reporting on Misty Copeland for 60 Minutes this week, correspondent Bill Whitaker heard the story of the star ballerina’s childhood: how a dance teacher took a teenage Misty under her wing, took her in her home, and changed her life.

What Whitaker didn’t expect to hear was that Copeland, now a soloist at the American Ballet Theater, is doing something similar for two teenage boys from Brooklyn — identical twins Shaakir and Naazir Muhammad.

“She’s a coach, she’s a mentor, she’s a big sister,” Whitaker tells 60 Minutes Overtime. “Her face lights up when she talks about them.”


How did these 17-year-old boys find the world of ballet? They told Whitaker it happened at age six, when professional dancers from the Brooklyn Ballet visited their elementary school as part of an outreach program. What they saw were muscular guys dancing with pretty girls. They were sold.

At home, they told their parents they wanted to dance, but the idea was immediately squashed. Whitaker says that didn’t stop them from forging their mother’s signature on a permission slip, and sneaking out to attend ballet class.

By age seven, both boys got scholarships to attend the Brooklyn Ballet School, and by age 11, they were accepted into the competitive school at ABT. That’s where they first caught a glimpse of Misty Copeland.

Until then, Naazir told Whitaker he felt like “the black sheep in the room.” “Everyone is Caucasian in the room except for a few people and then Misty came in,” Naazir said. “I tapped my brother like, ‘Look. There’s a black girl right there.'”

Misty Copeland has been looking out for the twins ever since — critiquing their ballet, their behavior, and their life choices.

When Shaakir recently announced his plan to quit high school to pursue ballet, Misty got involved and set him straight. What the twins say they’ve learned is that ballet is not about race or skin color; it’s about the way you move your body.

“I know that they’ve heard a lot of negativity throughout their training, and they still do to this day,” Copeland told Whitaker. “They don’t care. They love to dance.”

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Related Article: Twin boys win full ride to ABT after years of dedication


Jedidiah Harwood participating in masterclass intensive in New York City


By Dan Pine
The San Francisco Jewish Weekly
April 30, 2015


[Oakland, California, USA] – Jedidiah Harwood can take a flying leap better than any other boy around. The 13-year-old from Oakland is a gifted ballet dancer. So gifted, that earlier this year he auditioned for and won coveted spots in two summer intensive programs with the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. One granted him a full scholarship, the other a 50 percent scholarship.

Just one problem: Even with financial aid, Jed’s parents, who homeschool their six children, still could not afford the costs associated with the programs. This looked like a job for the Internet. In January, Jed’s family created a fundraising web page at GoFundMe ( They set what seemed to be a challenging goal of $10,000.

As of this week, their crowdfunding strategy had brought in more than $7,400, with one anonymous donor kicking in $2,000. The goal within reach, and thanks to the kindness of strangers, Jed can start packing his tights and ballet slippers for a summer of dance.

“This whole experience has been so humbling and overwhelming,” said Jed’s mother, Tamara Saunders. “I’m so touched by the generosity of people.”

Adds Jed, “I’m very happy and grateful for the generous donations. Though I was worried from time to time, I always had faith and somehow I knew it would pull through.”

That faith starts with the family’s Jewish observance. Saunders describes it as “Conservadox.” They attend services at Oakland’s Beth Jacob Congregation, keep Shabbat and open their home twice a month for a Shabbat mega-dinner that draws up to 50 people.

Jed is not the only member of the family with a flair for the arts. His twin sister, Leah, is a poet who has medaled at literary conferences; she’s also a jewelry maker who runs a small business. Younger brother Isaiah is a self-taught jazz pianist who attends the Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.

Their mom is a full-time piano teacher, while her husband, Ken Harwood, is a full-time stay-at-home dad.

“We wanted to have a tightly knit family and preserve some core values,” says Saunders. “It’s certainly not for everyone, but we had the opportunity to do it. Each [child] works at his or her own level, but we all sit together around the dining room table. My husband does 80 percent of the homeschooling, juggling six levels of math, science and reading. And they’ve done quite well.”

Though set to graduate from eighth grade this year, Jed and Leah are already on track to finish high school by next year, when they would take the state high school exit exam. For Jed, that would open the doors of the ballet world wide open.

His parents remember him at age 2 pirouetting across the living room floor. That was their first clue. “We thought, ‘That looks like ballet,’” Saunders recalls. “At that point I don’t think he had seen a ballet. We went to the local rec center, where they offered preschool movement classes. The teacher told me, ‘This boy can dance.’”

Jed’s parents enrolled him in a children’s ballet class for a time; by age 10 he was taking classes at the Conservatory of Classical Ballet in San Leandro, which offers a rigorous curriculum for serious ballet students.

“It started when I felt I needed to put my energy someplace,” Jed remembers. “There came a point when I really wanted to [study], so I told my parents. At first I felt nervous, but over the next couple of classes, I adjusted and embraced it. I practiced a lot over the years because I was determined to be the best that I could. I tried really hard and I’m happy to be where I’m at.”

Ann Fisher, who runs the conservatory and teaches Jed, is not surprised he was accepted into the programs. She says the fact that he landed scholarships indicates both programs really wanted him. “He’s got a lot of flexibility,” Fisher says. “Jed worked hard to increase that. He’s very dedicated, always coming to extra classes, and now attends seven classes a week. He’s part of our student company. Jed has worked his way up very quickly.”

Saunders remembers those nervous days in January when Jed auditioned for the summer programs. Hundreds of hopefuls showed up to compete for only 150 slots nationwide. Jed sailed through the Joffrey audition and made the second level for ABT, which is based in New York but offers its summer program in Orange County. The Joffrey program takes place in Chicago.

“He will be dancing all day, five days a week,” says Saunders. “He’ll have classes in technique, variation, pas de deux, character. Both [programs] culminate with a performance.”

Now that it appears Jed’s online fundraising will pay off, he’s letting himself feel some excitement about attending the two intensives this summer. “These programs are a great experience,” he says. “They allow you to be seen, so in the future if you want a job, the people will recognize you. I’m expecting to learn some different techniques.”

He’s never been away from home before, but Jed knows that this summer he’ll have a big cheering section waiting for him back in Oakland, led by his mother. “All the drive really comes from him,” Saunders says. “I’ve never met a more dedicated child. He works endlessly, tirelessly, for his dream. He deserves all the credit.”


Copyright 2015 San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc




The School of Pennsylvania Ballet Men's Class (Alexander Iziliaev) 2014


A candid interview with the artistic director of one of the premier U.S. ballet companies discussing boys, sports, bullying and the future of ballet.


By Tor Constantino
The Huffington Post
April 27, 2015


Both of my daughters had ballet lessons for a year or two when they were younger. But as I think back about it, I never saw a young boy in any of the practices or recitals. I never thought much about that until I wrote a couple of articles for The Good Men Project asserting that ballet is more of a sport than other activities such as bowling, billiards, darts, poker…etc.

Those articles got me thinking that within youth ballet, there seemed to be a stark lack of boys –the future of ballet requires boys now. That observation was confirmed during a recent interview with Angel Corella, the artistic director for the Pennsylvania Ballet.

One of the things he shared with me is that ballet requires balance — not just of each individual performer but gender balance because every ballet has specific choreographed roles and responsibilities for men and women.

However, the challenge facing ballet is breaking some of those gender stereotypes to help boys consider ballet to be as fun, exciting, rewarding, challenging and as athletic as more traditional pursuits such as baseball, soccer, football or basketball.

In the excerpted interview below, Corella shares his vision and that of the Pennsylvania Ballet, which has a ballet school for boys and girls that seeks to maintain that all important balance.


What led you into ballet?

The way I got into ballet is kind of strange because I came from a country [Spain] where men just didn’t do that type of thing because of its machismo culture.

Regardless, I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. During that time in the late 1970s, the movie Saturday Night Fever was incredibly popular and I would mimic the dancing I saw of John Travolta’s character every chance I could get. It was a way for me to express my need to dance without formal training.

Then my sisters began going to ballet class and I would go with them because I was taking karate class nearby. But I would often watch their ballet lessons and really began to appreciate the beauty and athleticism of ballet. I continued to go to karate classes until a friend of mine suffered a broken bone — so I stopped attending and sat in on my sisters’ classes.

I did that for several days — paying close attention — while my mother would run errands, until I actually began to follow and mimic the movements, joining the class.


How was that for you as a boy in a very masculine culture of Spain?

I had some trouble. When the kids at school found out that I was taking ballet — a few of them followed me home and bullied me saying I wore a tutu and wore tiaras. But I loved ballet so much and it came so naturally to me, I didn’t even care about the ridicule.

Shortly thereafter I moved to a larger ballet school outside of Madrid, where I studied for several years before moving to the U.S. where I became a professional dancer.


Given your fondness for movies about dancing, what was your opinion of the movie Billy Elliot that came out in 2000? Seems like it was something you could relate to.

The School of Pennsylvania Ballet Boys' Class (Alexander Iziliaev) 2014Yes, I could relate — in fact there were eerie similarities. Like in the movie, my father was also a boxer and there was a great deal of tension and difficulty when I told him I wanted to be a dancer. But when you love something so much — you’re willing to fight for it. I was willing to fight for my love of dancing and that was something my father came to understand.


Can you describe the support network you had that kept you going?

It was my family — especially my three sisters. One of my sisters was a dancer with me and she was right beside me to face every challenge together. But I have to say the opposition and bullying made me really strong as a person. I had to grow up quickly. So much so that I began dancing professionally at age 15 — but the ballet provided me a discipline and a great outlet to stay out of trouble. Again, my family has played a critical role and we’re still very close.


I can imagine family support was important because ballet lessons are not cheap, correct?

Correct, they can be a lot of money and they were for my family. My father worked two jobs to support our family and our passion for ballet and my mother was a school teacher. It was incredibly hard, but I’m very appreciative of that. I can tell you that both my parents were incredibly proud and repeatedly told me so after the first time they saw me perform — in fact my father cried the first time he saw me dance, so all that effort really paid off.


Can you talk about the athleticism that’s required of ballet dancers?

Absolutely, it’s one of the few professions that require complete engagement of every aspect of your being — mentally, emotionally and physically. Ballet demands complete control of your body from your toenails to the top of your hair during a performance. It requires complete concentration to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or other performers.

Bottom line, you have to be an athlete — you have to be athletic and extremely well trained. There are extremely high leaps. It’s a physical challenge lifting female dancers above your head several times during a performance.

Such athletic actions require balance, strength and poise because the ultimate goal is to make it look effortless and graceful — like it’s nothing. You can’t show with your face that it’s really, really difficult to create every human emotion with your body.

Pennsylvania Ballet's Soloist Alexander Peters in George Balanchine's Prodigal Son (Alexander Iziliaev)


Ballet has been rewarding for you, even as a young boy. How do you introduce ballet to the next generation of boys?

You first have to make it as easy as possible for them to experience it first, and then continue to make it easy and enjoyable for them to want to continue to do it every day thereafter. It’s critically important to create a very positive atmosphere, and to help families support a boy’s passion for ballet — if he has it.

Usually, when kids — both boys and girls — decide for themselves that they want to dance, there’s no way to stop them. It’s the role of ballet companies — such as the Pennsylvania Ballet where I work as the artistic director –to create the vision and capture the dream for children of what’s possible and what they can become. It’s very exciting to be part of that.


Tell me about the ballet school for kids that’s sponsored by the Pennsylvania Ballet?

A full school year runs for 35 weeks, starting in September and ending in June. There are seven levels of training in the student division in addition to pre-ballet classes we offer for students ages 5 to 7. There is no audition requirement for pre-ballet but all new students between the ages of 8-to-19 do attend a placement class so artistic staff may determine the level of study appropriate for each child.

General auditions take place throughout the year, and each year about 100 students are selected exclusively from the school to appear with the Pennsylvania Ballet in its annual holiday production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker — it’s really amazing for the students and their families to experience. The most important thing is to start them young — the younger the better. Ballet won’t hurt their developing bodies but will make them stronger, more graceful and flexible.

What makes our program unique, is that the boys train with the boys which helps normalize the experience and bonding. Growing up, I only danced with girls and would have benefited from having more peers who were male.


Can you tell me about the need for male dancers in ballet and the important role they play?

Every performance must have balance — just as in life. And that’s one of the reasons why the ballet needs male performers, to provide that balance. Ever since the beginning of balance centuries ago it has been about both male and female performers. Both are equally important for the future of this art form.

The School of Pennsylvania Ballet

Copyright ©2015 The Huffington Post



Metropolitan Ballet Academy photo


Press Release
Metropolitan Ballet Company
May 6, 2015


Jenkintown, PA— Metropolitan Ballet Company will hold auditions for its renowned Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 9:00 AM, at the studio of Metropolitan Ballet Academy, 700 Cedar Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046. Boys ages 7-11 and 12-18 are eligible to receive free, weekly dance classes from September 2015 through June 2016, taught by artists Denis Gronostayskiy and Sergey Pupyrev, who trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and performed professionally worldwide, and presently serve on the Metropolitan Ballet faculty. No prior dance experience is required.

Metropolitan Ballet Company Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program 2014-2015 Level 1 students with MBC faculty member, Sergey Pupyrev (Miki Wray)

The Boys’ Scholarship Program provides tuition-free training in all-male classes designed to enhance athletic skills, motor intelligence, balance, flexibility and strength. Approximately 50 boys enroll each year to study beginning, intermediate and advanced ballet and partnering with distinguished male dancers who serve as teachers and role models, while addressing boys’ unique movement and learning styles. Boys in the Scholarship Program also enjoy classes taught by guest artists in modern, jazz and character dance, and diverse performance opportunities with Metropolitan Ballet Company. The Company is affiliated with Metropolitan Ballet Academy, which Pointe magazine named as one of America’s top seven ballet studios.

Metropolitan Ballet Company Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program  students with MBC faculty member, Sergey Pupyrev


Metropolitan Ballet Company Boys’ Scholarship Dance Program  students with MBC faculty member, Sergey Pupyrev 02

Metropolitan Ballet’s Boys’ Scholarship Program was created by Lisa Collins Vidnovic in 1999 as a way to make ballet accessible to boys in the greater Philadelphia region. Vidnovic, a former Pennsylvania Ballet soloist and Ballet Mistress, founded Metropolitan Ballet Academy in 1996 and Metropolitan Ballet Company, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, pre-professional performing company, in 2001. Nearly 250 boys have participated in the Program to date, and several Program alumni have pursued professional careers in dance, earning summer scholarships to regional intensive ballet programs, and performing with companies nationwide.

The Boys’ Scholarship Program is an outreach program of Metropolitan Ballet Company, and proudly supported by grants from the Loeb Performing Arts Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation and by many generous gifts from individuals. For more information about auditions for the Boys’ Scholarship Program, MBA classes for boys and girls, tickets to the MBA Showcase on May 30-31, 2015, or tax-deductible contributions to MBC, please contact Lisa Collins Vidnovic at 215-663-1665, email or visit

Gearoid Solan will be attending The Royal Ballet School this September 2015


By Laura Larkin
The Evening Herald
April 27, 2015


Geriod Solan and Aoibh Ni BrionIreland’s answer to Billy Elliot can’t wait to begin his studies at the world-renowned Royal Ballet School in London. Gearoid Solan (15), from Dunboyne, is the first Irish male in 30 years to attend the school in Covent Garden.

He has been dancing ballet since he was five, but said he didn’t take it seriously until he turned 12.

Gearoid will be the youngest student in the dancing academy when he starts classes in September. “I’m a bit nervous, but I’m also excited. I couldn’t really believe it when I got accepted,” he told the Herald.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to most is having more boys in my class. In Ireland there are not that many guys doing ballet. It’s unusual for a guy to do ballet here, so when I tell people they’re usually very interested and have a lot of questions.”

Gearoid is balancing his dance commitments with his Junior Cert exams which are fast approaching.

He has big ambitions for his ballet career and announced his intention to study at the Royal Ballet School on television two years ago. “He told Miriam O’Callaghan that he was trying to persuade us to let him go to London,” his mum Ann Marie recalled. He “lives, eats and breathes” ballet, she said, adding that if he isn’t rehearsing or doing his stretches he will be studying performances on his computer or his phone.

Gearoid SolanGearoid is the first ballet dancer in the family, but Anne Marie said he has always been drawn to it. “I have memories of him even as a two-year-old and he would just be mesmerised by music and dancing,” she said.

By the time he was nine, she recognised that “he had something special” and turned to Katherine Lewis, one of Ireland’s best-known ballerinas, who runs the Irish National Youth Ballet (INYB). Through his work with INYB and with Grainne McArdle in Celbridge, Gearoid has really progressed, his proud mother said.

He trains for 14-and-a-half hours a week, but those are his scheduled hours – in reality he spends much more time perfecting his craft.

“I’ve often gone to bed at midnight and I know that Gearoid will still be up doing his stretches,” said Anne Marie. “I’ve given up telling him to go to bed.”


Copyright 2015 The Evening herald


Isaac Sanders rises through the ranks of the ballet world (ChadRiley


By Jani Gonzalez
Coeur d’Alene Living Local
March 1, 2015


[Coeur d’Arlene, Idaho, USA] – Dancing ballet is not likely to cross the mind of many teenage boys, but for Isaac Sanders, 16, it was the art form he fell in love with at the early age of 8.

“I fell in love with performing immediately and ever since,” Isaac explained while on break at Ballet Coeur d’Alene’s studio. “I hadn’t really seen men dance so gracefully before.”

Isaac, who is homeschooled, spends eight-hour days at the studio stretching and rehearsing a series of dance sequences done to a dramatic classical piano recording. He also teaches a class to boys and adults on some evenings. “I dance, I sleep and I eat,” he said. “And school – I do that too.”

In his short dancing career, he’s placed high in several dance competitions. Most recently, he won first place at the Youth Grand Prix (YAGP) in the contemporary category and third in the classical category. He was the youngest dancer in the senior division, which includes ages 15 to 19 years.

“When I first performed, it was a great challenge. It keeps you readying for something more,” he said. “I love performing. It’s the best way to express myself.”

Isaac started dancing as a way to pass the time while his sister took lessons. When his sister quit, he kept on with the classes until the school closed. It was then, at the age of 10, that Isaac decided to seriously study ballet. He auditioned for the Kirov Russian Ballet School’s summer program in Pocatello.

“It was a short three-week program, but I loved it and decided to continue, so I enrolled in a year-round program,” he said.

His teachers also recognized his talent and told his parents about his potential. Isaac’s decision coincided with his father’s graduation from pharmacy school, and the family was preparing to move to north Idaho. When a ballet school close to family didn’t work out, his parents made the difficult decision to let then 11-year-old Isaac stay in Pocatello and live with church friends. It was a decision that lasted until last summer when Isaac finally returned home though he visited his family monthly.

“At first, it was very difficult, but then it was not so bad,” Isaac said about living away from home.

Things picked up fast for Isaac in the world of ballet. In the fall of 2011, he entered his first ballet competition, called the YAGP, where he placed among the top 12 in the junior category. “That was really thrilling because I had just started dancing,” he said.

The next summer, he received third place in the classical category and went on to the finals in New York City where he was awarded a scholarship to the Bolshoi Summer Intensive Program. It is a six week Russian ballet camp where he studied classical ballet, stretch and strength, modern ballet and ballet history. The stint landed him an invitation at the Bolshoi’s main campus in Moscow, Russia, where he had to raise $25,000 to attend the school for one year.

“It was the best and most difficult year of my life, living away from home. I was there an entire semester before I could visit,” he said. “In Moscow, I was completely cut off.”

The training was more serious and stricter than the programs he had attended in the U.S. He was completely immersed in the Russian language and culture, practicing with an elite group of dancers handpicked from around the world. Isaac was just one of six Americans invited to attend the school.

He returned home last summer to live with his family for the first time in four years. He began studying at Ballet Coeur d’Alene under the direction of Brooke Nicholson. Like all of his other decisions, this one too was based on advancing in the study of ballet. This time, it was to make the transition from student to professional dancer.

“He’s very musical as a dancer with lots of power and strength,” Ms. Nicholson said of Isaac.

The ballet world may be a beautiful one, but it is extremely competitive, and Ms. Nicholson constantly reminds her students of that. “You have to keep [students] hungry for that. There’s always someone who can dance better or jump higher,” she said. “Not everyone will like you in the working world. Not everyone will need someone with your looks.”

Even though male dancers, called “ballerinos,” are a minority in the U.S., that isn’t the case worldwide, she said. Isaac seems to know the work that lies ahead of him. “I originally only trained in the Russian style, but I need to dance like an American because I want to dance here,” he said.

Isaac studies ballet as part of a pre-professional program with the goal of obtaining a position at a ballet company. He spends his days dancing with three other ballet students, all of them girls.

Asked if he ever received negativity for choosing such a female-dominated terrain, he replied, “At first, people are a little shocked, especially because I’m male and because of my age. But almost every friend I’ve had is [impressed] because of how much discipline it takes. Also, I’m with girls,” he said with a shy grin.


© 2015 Coeur d’Alene Living Local



Related Article: Invitation has teen dancing on air

Five of the seven children in the Westerman family are at Houston Ballet Laura Westerman, Matthew, (8); Jack, (10); Patrick, (13); Luke, (14); Claire, (15); Matt Westerman 2015


By Michael Hagerty
Houston Public Media
April 23. 2015


When Houston Ballet’s Spring Showcase hits the stage this weekend [April 25-26], five of the dancers will be siblings. So how did two parents – who admit they are not the best dancers – produce a family of ballet enthusiasts?

News 88.7’s Arts and Culture Reporter Amy Bishop went to downtown Houston to learn more about Houston’s Westerman Family.


Copyright © Houston Public Media

Related Article: 11-year-old dances his way to ballet gold


Boys-Free-Program-Flyer[Buffalo, New York, USA] – Neglia Conservatory of Ballet is excited to announce its first ALL MALE summer ballet workshop, for FREE. This new free program, specifically for males age 8-12 will help break the gender imbalance by giving boys an opportunity to experience the artistry and strength of ballet. In a female dominated art we are confident this new gender specific program will give interested boys the confidence to try ballet without fear of criticism.

A majority of boys play contact sports because social norms say boys play sports and girls dance… social norms are changing. With shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars,” boys are becoming more interested in dance. Male dancers, as all dancers, must work hard to become strong, agile and disciplined. Neglia Conservatory has transformed young boys into exceptional young men strong enough to lift women over their heads, talented enough to perform in professional productions and confidant enough to pursue a future in the performing arts.

Highlighted teachers include Fidel Orrillo, visiting ballet master from the official school of the Rochester City Ballet, and Neglia Ballet Artists, Sergio Neglia. At the end of the two weeks, scholarships to attend Neglia Conservatory full-time will be awarded to those who show a high degree of both interest and passion for dance. Classes will take place from 4:30 pm to 5:45pm, Monday through Friday starting on June 29th, ending July 10th.

Space is LIMITED.

Serious inquires should contact our office at or by phone 716-447-0401.

Please REGISTER ONLINE by June 1st.

For over 20 years Neglia Conservatory of Ballet has trained male dancers who have continued on to successful dance careers, or alternative disciplined professions. While partnering and basics are advantageous to all dancers, Neglia’s boys program was created to give male dancers the extra instruction and advice they need to truly become strong male dancers with separate men’s classes in addition to mixed. Now is the time to add to our male student base allowing them the experience to build a solid foundation to become strong, agile, and talented male dancers with an internationally sought after male teacher, the conservatory’s own Sergio Neglia.

Twenty years ago, Neglia Conservatory of Ballet opened, providing a distinctively high level of classical ballet training to dance students in Western New York. Since its inception, the Conservatory has achieved great success in identifying and developing young talent as well as creating an international reputation for superior training.

After leaving the Cincinnati Ballet, Buffalo native Heidi Halt, a former professional dancer, and Argentinian-born ballet artist, Sergio Neglia, rooted their family and founded Neglia Ballet in Buffalo, NY. Neglia describes the conservatory’s expressive ballet training style as one that imparts energy and feeling with regard to the body’s movements rather than overstressing machine-like technique.

Over the years, Halt and Neglia have expanded conservatory programming to include ages 3 to adult (both beginners and experienced), a strong boys/ men’s training program and created Neglia Ballet Artists, giving Buffalo a professional ballet company.  The dedication Neglia Ballet gives its students have lead them onto careers with dance companies such as the American Repertory Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theater, Richmond Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet.

Today, Neglia Ballet offers students the opportunity to audition and perform with professional dancers and the BPO onstage at Shea’s. This September students and local dancers can audition for Baba Yaga, and The Nutcracker. More information about the free summer boys program, annual classes, performances and auditions can be found at

By Yang Liu
The Dominion Post
April 23 2015


Shae Berney, 15, was picked from more than 400 dancers from around Australasia as winner of the Alana Haines training scholarship for 2015 (Alana Haines Trust)[Hutt, New Zealand] – There were more than 400 dancers – some of them world class – vying for Alana Haines Australasia Awards this month. But one of the top prizes went to a Hutt teen who has only been learning ballet for 18 months.

Shae Berney’s lively performance of The Bluebird, from The Sleeping Beauty, stood out in the judges’ eyes and got him to the quarter finals at the Easter event at Wellington Opera House. By the final curtain fall, the 15-year-old had been awarded a scholarship to attend the Harid Conservatory in Florida, USA.

The AHA Awards have become the largest dance awards in Australasia, with a total of $300,000 in cash and international scholarships up for grabs. Among the hundreds of 11-21 year-olds were dancers who had just returned as winners from the Prix de Lausanne Switzerland, YAGP New York & Genee Belgium.

AHA cofounder Katie Haines said the judges saw great potential in Shae and awarded him the scholarship over othe finalists. He will spend four weeks in Florida attending a Summer Intensive with students from throughout the USA and around the world. The classes start on June 22.

The Hutt International Boys School year 11 student told Hutt News he was “pretty excited” about the journey. It’s going be lots of fun, like [meeting] many new people and stuff. But being away from home for a month is pretty scary.”

His mother LeeAnne Berney will go with with him for the first few days to help him settle in. She said Shae had been interested in dancing since he could walk. “I always knew he had a talent. He put music on at home and danced around.”

Shae’s first stage foray was in musical theatre about four years ago, but ballet drew his eye 18 months ago. “It was from my sister; she used to learn. I just watched her, and thought it looked fun. So I tried out.”

A student of Bronwyn Bennett at Chilton St James, he enjoys classical ballet most but also likes jazz and contemporary styles. He spends more than 20 hours a week training, only taking a break on Sunday.

Juggling study and dance practices was tough, but LeeAnne Berney said Shae was “always pretty determined.” “Some days he goes straight to the studio from school and he’s not home till 9 or 9.30pm. Other days he may have only one class, so he gets his homework done on those days.”

Although not sure about his future career plan, Shae said he would be more than content to earn a living from dancing.

LeeAnne Berney is proud of her son and excited about what the next 18 months might bring. “If he makes the same amount of progress as what he has done, it could be quite interesting.”


The Alana Haines Trust was set up in 1990 by Greg and Katie Haines (both former dancers with the New Zealand Ballet Company) in memory of their 11-year-old daughter Alana – a promising young dancer who was killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve, 1989.


© 2015 Fairfax New Zealand Limited




Fred Dixon will play the king in LCB's Snow White (Surrey Comet) 2015

By Priscila Barrera
The Surrey Comet
April 21, 2015


[Surrey, England] – An aspiring young dancer has been cast for a ballet production of Snow White that will run in London’s West End at the end of April. Fred Dixon, 14, who attends Heathside School in Weybridge, will dance the role of the king, Snow White’s father.

Sarah Dixon, Fred’s mother, said: “I am extremely proud of Fred and I am looking forward to seeing him in the show.”

Snow White is a London Children’s Ballet production, a performance company founded in 1994 that gives children the opportunity to perform as part of a professional ballet production free of charge. Only 56 children aged nine to 16 will dance at the Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre from April 23 to 26.

Mrs Dixon said: “It has always been his ambition to perform in the West End and it will be a dream come true.”

Fred started dancing when he was seven and was inspired by TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

Sharon Rault, his teacher at the Susan Roberts Academy of Performing Arts, put him forward for the auditions for Snow White back in November.

The ballet will be choreographed by Jenna Lee, who danced until recently as a soloist with English National Ballet.

For more information about the ballet, visit


Copyright 2015 Newsquest Ltd.


Ballet dancers Hugh O'Sullivan (left) and Lewis Heath (Paul Jacobs)


The News
April 20, 2015


[Portsmouth, England] – A talented trio are to perform in a production of Snow White in the West End this month [April].

Hugh O’Sullivan, Lewis Heath and Tilly-May Padley are currently rehearsing as a part of the London Children’s Ballet group. The cast of Snow White aged 9-16, represents 56 of the best ballet talent from across the UK who will perform at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre, London.

Lewis who trains at the Southsea School of Dance has been cast in three roles including a kings huntsman.

14-year-old Lewis from Hilsea said: ‘It is my first time doing anything like this so I am over the moon that I got in. I am a little bit nervous as all of the nights are sold out but it will be breath taking to do.’

Lewis suffers from Tourette’s syndrome and uses ballet to battle his tics. He said: ‘I find it quite hard to cope but when I start dancing something strange happens and it helps me manage my tics really well.’

Dancing alongside him will be another Southsea pupil, Hugh O’Sullivan from Old Portsmouth. The 12-year-old performed in last year’s production of Nanny McPhee but it wasn’t easy for him to be cast in Snow White.

Hugh will be playing the part of a king’s huntsmen and a dancing party entertainer. He said: ‘I decided to audition again as it was really, really fun last year. I was quite nervous when I auditioned before but as I know what I’m doing a bit more I think I will be fine.’

Playing Happy the dwarf is the production is Tilly-May Padley from Drayton. The 11-year-old recently performed at The Kings Theatre’s staging of Sleeping Beauty. According to directors she was the ideal choice to play Happy since her first audition.

Zoe Vickerman said: ‘She is incredible and has been since her first audition. ‘She is so smiley that we knew she would be perfect for this part.’

To get their roles the trio had to compete against 600 young hopefuls all wanting their moment in the limelight.


© 2015 Johnston Publishing Ltd.


San Francisco Ballet School students in class (Erik Tomasson)


San Francisco Ballet School—America’s first professional ballet school—will host a free open house on Saturday, May 16 at 1pm, for boys ages 8 to 11 and their parents to find out more about the school’s boy’s training program. The event includes a facility tour, rehearsal observation, and Q&A session with school staff. No ballet experience is needed. To register, visit or call 415.865.6700.

By Gramilano
April 19, 2015


James Hobley, a fifteen year-old from Redcar, has been offered a place at the English National Ballet School.

James Hobley in class at the Yorkshire Summer School       James Hobley (photo by Nicola Selby)

Congratulations, another Billy Elliott makes his way to London! Yes, but James’s story is quite special and while any young dancer managing to surpass the ENB School auditions is outstanding, young James’s achievement is exceptional.

James is autistic.


Read Jame’s story:

Copyright © 2015 · Gramilano


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