By Phoebe Wearne
Photograph by Michael O’Brien
The West Australian
May 8, 2013
[North Perth, Australia] – Kristopher Bradford is just as comfortable performing in tights under the dazzling lights of centre stage as he is on the rugby field. When the 18-year-old dancer from Mandurah started ballet 13 years ago, there were just three boys at his ballet school. Now he is the oldest of five males over the age of 14 studying at the Charlesworth Ballet Institute in North Perth, all of whom hope to carve out a career as ballet dancers.
In August, he will move to Germany to take up a position at a ballet school in Mannheim after he was offered a place during a tour of Europe.
He said he had never let the stereotypes associated with ballet bother him. “I listen to heavy metal,” he said. “I played rugby in school. I rode motorbikes for years. I did have occasional trouble with my friends at school but a game of football or rugby sorted them out.”
Institute director Sonya Shepherd said the number of boys at the school had at least doubled in the past decade. Ms Shepherd said while the film Billy Elliot came out in 2000, it and other dance movies were still having a positive impact on perceptions.
She said a recognition of ballet as a foundation for any dance style had also contributed to a steady growth in the number of boys involved. “The word is out if you do classical ballet, you can do anything,” she said.
WA Academy of Performing Arts classical ballet co-ordinator Kim McCarthy, who studied dance in Perth in the 1980s, said males now accounted for about a third of students and came from all walks of life. “In the 80s bullying was rife for male dancers,” he said. “But with dance courses becoming a part of most high schools, it is becoming more acceptable for boys to dance.”
Copyright 2013West Australian Newspapers Limited