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Madeleine Babiolakis
The Age
September 30, 2010


ZACHARY Piccirillo is an avid football player who has only ever wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. Four times a week after school, the 10-year-old swaps his footy boots for a white leotard and tights.

”I think it was a way to express my feelings,” Zachary said of his first ballet class when he was three. ”I haven’t wanted to do anything else since.”

Zachary, who is in year 5, and his classmate Mathilda Ballantyne were recently accepted into The Australian Ballet School, a prestigious training ground for the country’s best classical dancers.

The two children are students at the Melbourne School of Classical Dance, where they are taught a Russian training method.

”I want to be a ballerina because I get to learn new things about ballet, be in more shows and get famous,” Mathilda, 9, said.

While she might not be old enough to do her own ballet bun, the year 3 student was adamant about her career choice. ”I told mum I wanted to be a dancer two years ago and so we found a school,” Mathilda said, running her hands over her white tulle tutu. “I really like ballet because it has lots of style.”

Melbourne School of Classical Dance principal Kate Reilly said her two students were blessed with the ”natural physical gifts” of professional ballet dancers. ”They are also quick thinkers, which is important for retaining corrections and picking up choreography,” Ms Reilly said.

It was Ms Reilly who approached Zachary’s mother, Renee, to audition her young son.

”This is the beginning of what he has always wanted,” Mrs Piccirillo said. ”Zachary was doing ballet before he knew what it was.”

Despite his dedication to classical dance, Zachary has not abandoned his interest in football. ”I think I’m just going to do ballet because my brother is probably going to become a football player,” he said. ”Maybe after I’m done with ballet I’ll try football too.”

But the two young dancers are aware of the extra challenges that their new training will present. ”It’s going to be hard, like a lot harder than this school and real school,” Mathilda said.


Copyright © 2010 Fairfax Media

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