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The DesMoines Register
November 16, 2010


Drew Minard’s dance resume is distinguished. The 10-year-old Clive boy is skilled in a half dozen different styles, including ballet, jazz and tap.

Last month, the Crossroads Park Elementary School student added one more accomplishment to the already lengthy list – an invitation to audition for “Billy Elliot,” a Broadway production. And although Drew didn’t make the cut this time, local supporters say the opportunity reflects the big-time talent the youngster has developed since pulling on his first ballet slippers at age 3.

“My dream is to play Billy in ‘Billy Elliot,’ so this was pretty cool,” said the fifth-grader, who plans to try out for the role again during the show’s next casting session. “It has all the different styles of dance that I like.”

The Tony Award-winning production, based on a 2000 film of the same name, tells the story of a boy who loves ballet. Iowa City native Alex Ko, 14, is currently one of five young dancers cast as the title character in the Broadway musical. Drew and Alex studied together at the Iowa Ballet Academy in Urbandale, and Alex’s mother, Tammie, recommended that the show’s casting director invite Drew to New York City to try out for the part.

“I was really nervous,” Drew admitted. “But once the audition started, I was like, oh, this is so much fun, and I kind of forgot to be nervous anymore.”

The youngster made it through the first round of cuts, but was ultimately passed over because of his size, said Ami Yaro, Iowa Ballet Academy director. “In his case, they told him he needs to grow,” she said. “But they were pleased with his training, and going to auditions helps establish connections.”

Drew spends about 20 hours a week dancing. Earlier this year, he was named one of the top 300 young dancers in the world through the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. The student ballet competition includes dancers ages 9 to 19 from the United States and abroad.

Drew’s natural ability, matched with a drive to succeed, sets him apart from other students, Yaro said. “He has a good physique for a dancer, a lot of stage presence, a lot of personality and he’s motivated,” she said. “That’s a pretty potent combination.”

The young performer is also eager to learn, said Chelsea Cunningham, director of Des Moines’ Hoover High School drama program. This fall, Drew played a monkey in the school’s production of “Aladdin.” The show marked his first time acting.

“There’s something special about him when he gets on stage – he just lights up,” Cunningham said. “For how humble he is, he’s so alive on stage. That’s rare to see in a kid.”


Copyright ©2010 The Des Moines Register.






One Comment

  1. How exciting for Drew. But a minor correction. Alex Ko did not study at the same dance school as Drew. Alex studied jazz & tap at National Dance Academy, ballet at City Ballet of Iowa, and was enrolled as an undergraduate college student at The University of Iowa’s Department of Dance in Ballet for Majors 3 and has earned two semesters of college credit with a straight A average. Drew and Alex met when Drew attended Alex’s charity event established in honor of Alex’s dad, Sam Ko, at the ASPIRE Dance Competition & Scholarship Convention. Drew immediately caught the eye of Alex’s mom, who called the casting director of Billy Elliot the Musical, who had cast Alex in the title role of ‘Billy’ for the Broadway production of the 10-time Tony award winning musical. 

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