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Mark Russell
The Age
Photographs by Craig Sillitoe
July 3, 2011

THERE were pirouettes aplenty, but not a pointe shoe in sight, when a group of aspiring dancers took to the State Theatre stage yesterday as part of the Australian Ballet’s Boys’ Day.

The 29 boys, aged 8 to 14, travelled from around Australia to participate in the special program aimed at encouraging them to pursue their dreams of becoming the stars of the future.

Melbourne Ballet principal artist Robert Curran, who put his charges through their paces for 2½ hours, said the day was a wonderful way for boys to see that their interest in dance could lead to a career.

”When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be a dancer but there wasn’t much around to inspire me, to give me some kind of goal,” he said. ”For these boys to get the chance to do classes on the State Theatre stage gives them the drive to stay committed. It gives them perspective and the understanding that being a male dancer is a very strong and athletic and powerful activity. It’s not at all pink tulle and pointe shoes.”

One of the boys, Liam Kafka-Sweeney, 9, of Bentleigh, spends more than three hours a week at ballet classes. His mother, Rachel, said he was inspired to be a dancer after seeing a performance of Billy Elliot, The Musical, in 2008.

”He said, ‘Right, that’s what I want to do’,” she said. ”I thought his interest might wane over the holidays but he kept asking me, ‘Have you booked me in, have you booked me in?’ So he went to a class and it was all girls. I thought he was going to say, ‘Right, that’s it, I want to go home’, but he loved it.”

Ms Kafka-Sweeney said the Boys’ Day was good for her son because it showed him there were other boys who shared his interest in ballet.

Mr Curran said interest in the annual program was growing. A total of 142 boys had signed up this year, compared with 123 last year. He said films such as Billy Elliot and the television show So You Think You Can Dance had helped to break down stereotypes about ballet dancers.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax Media




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