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The Manning River Times
January 4, 2011


A YOUNG man who stepped into his first dance class only three years ago will spend the next four as a full-time student of The Australian Ballet School.

It’s a time of excitement and trepidation for 15-year-old Zacharie (Zac) Dun from Taree, who leaves behind family and friends at the end of January to take up the opportunity of a lifetime. “I’m excited and scared at the same time,” he said.  “But the excitement is overpowering the dauntingness of it”.

The Australian Ballet School in Melbourne is one of the most prestigious dance schools in the country and its graduates go on to very successful careers.

Zac auditioned this year on the suggestion of his dance teacher and principal Andrea Rowsell who felt his natural talent, passion, love for dance, sensible nature, commitment and attitude would take him a long way. He is the first student since the Andrea Rowsell Academy of Dance opened to be accepted into the Australian Ballet School full-time.

Originally he had applied to take part in the interstate program (where young dancers attend during schools holidays), however he was told he was too old for that program and the school wanted him full-time.

While dancing has always been an intrinsic part of Zac’s nature (it wasn’t uncommon to find him running and jumping up the hallway in dance moves ever since he was little), he didn’t start lessons until relatively recently. “I don’t know why I want to dance. It’s just always been there and always something I’ve done,” he explained.

In 2008 he began dance classes at Studio 1 Performance Centre with teacher Krystle Molloy, mainly just for fun. But it wasn’t long before his talents started to shine through.

At the beginning of 2010 he moved over to the Andrea Rowsell Academy of Dance to concentrate on his technique and have the chance to work with male teacher Julian Lankshear on male specific ballet as well as solos for eisteddfods.

Zac takes classes in a range of disciplines (and with a variety of teachers) including ballet, jazz, contemporary and modern expressive.

He said auditioning for The Australian Ballet School was ‘quite scary’ and ‘daunting’ at first, but once they got started it was just like a regular ballet class. “For the first 10 minutes everyone tried to be perfect, and then it was just fun and we had a chance to show off a bit.”

He got the news on the phone from his mum while he was at school at the Taree Christian College and said he burst into tears. “All my friends were happy for me”. They received the official letter a few days later.

Only 17 people from across Australia were selected for the full-time program.

Zac has since been down to get a taste of the school, meeting the teachers and doing some lessons with the level five boys.

In the four years he’s at the ballet school he will work towards a Certificate III in Dance, the Victorian Certificate of Education (HSC equivalent) and the Advanced Diploma of Dance.

His schedule will include half a day of dance and half a day of school on Monday to Friday and then another half day of dance on Saturdays.

Zac, the son of Cathy and Graeme Dun and older brother to Cooper and Samara, heads off with mixed emotions. “I’m happy to be getting out there and getting better training…but just leaving everybody here. My best friends are here and it’s just really hard.”

His first day of school is January 26, and he expects to arrive in Melbourne a week earlier to settle in.

His parents are busily arranging his accommodation and are looking into the homestay option.

Zac hopes he will be able to get back to Taree and visit as much as possible.

Once he finishes the four-year course he would like to become part of The Australian Ballet company. “But my biggest goal is to work with the Russian Ballet Company or the New York Ballet Company.

“After that I might come back and open up a dance studio,” he said.


Copyright © 2011. Fairfax Media.

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