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Clare Morgan
The Sydney Morning Herald
October 29, 2009

John Moore, 11, shows off his leap for Adrian Burnett and the rest of the boys' class at Tamworth's Owl and Pussycat dance school 2009

THE day before Adrian Burnett turned up at the Owl and the Pussycat dance school in Tamworth, he received a photograph and a letter from a boy who could barely contain his excitement over the former Australian Ballet dancer taking their class.

”They were so enthusiastic, they absolutely rocked it out,” said Burnett, who led the class as part of the Dance The Dream competition, a joint venture between NAB and the Australian Ballet.

It seems that boys up Tamworth way love their dance, with the school’s principal, Kimberley Brazel, dedicating one day a week to a boys’ class, the Tomcats. Class member Jaydon Merrick, 10, had entered the competition without telling anyone, including Mrs Brazel.

Almost 800 ballet schools from around Australia entered, with 10 selected for workshops with a professional dancer from the Australian Ballet. Burnett thinks the program is invaluable in fostering interest in dance and ballet, especially in regional areas.

”You see programs to get children interested in sport but there aren’t so many of those things for the arts, and in particular dance,” he said. They might not be ballet dancers – in fact, most of them won’t be – but they’re the audiences of the future, which hopefully gets them into other artforms.”

He enjoyed the chance to speak to parents, who often didn’t know what they were supposed to do to encourage their children. ”Often the fathers ask me questions, and it’s great to put them at ease. My father didn’t know what was going on either,” he said. ”There’s lots of focus on dance, thanks to So You Think You Can Dance, but not so much on classical ballet. In fact, I think there’s lots of misconceptions about ballet.”

Yesterday Burnett took a class from the Caper School of Performing Arts, in Bella Vista. ”I saw a lot of talent that we’ll see more of in the future,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 Sydney Morning Herald

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