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By Fiona Purdon
The Courier-Mail
Photograph by Branco Gaica
February 16, 2011


RISING Australian Ballet star Rudy Hawkes has an unusual background – the Ipswich-bred dancer represented Braemer High School in rugby league.


But his sporting achievements have not stopped him excelling in ballet. He is one of six Australian Ballet (AB) dancers nominated for this year’s prestigious Telstra Ballet Dancer Award (TBDA) in Melbourne this week.

Hawkes, recently elevated to soloist, is currently rehearsing for his six-year career’s biggest challenge – dancing the principal role of naval officer Pinkerton in the upcoming production of Madam Butterfly in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old says his Ipswich childhood, where he studied at the Shayne McCormick Dance Centre, has helped him portray the “blokey” character of Pinkerton in the Japanese-set tragic love story.

“I liked my sports I used to ride BMXs and I played on the wing in rugby league…so I could avoid the big scary forwards with no necks,” he says. “I represented the school and we made the finals one year. I was lucky I was never teased about my dancing.”

AB acting Artistic Director Danilo Radojevic says Hawkes has greatly improved in the past year and his masculinity and acting ability helped him win the key role of Pinkerton. “Dancing Pinkerton is the biggest step in his career…it is an extremely difficult part, he has to show he is a man of strength,” he says. “He is showing leadership backstage and in the studio so it is great that this is being recognised.”

Hawkes, who will partner principal Kirsty Martin in Madame Butterfly, is thriving with the increased workload and he is thrilled to have been recognised a second time after being nominated in 2007. He was sidelined with a knee injury for much of that year.

“The nomination was totally unexpected. I didn’t think I would receive another go at it,” he says.

The other nominated dancers for the TBDA are Brett Chynoweth, Chengwu Guo, Robyn Hendricks, Luke Marchant and Karen Nanasca.

Nominees are judged on their dance work throughout the year, an interview with the AB’s artistic staff and an essay. The winner will be announced later this year.

Brisbane’s Dana Stephensen is the reigning Telstra Ballet Dance Award winner.


© 2011 Queensland Newspapers

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