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Australian Ballet School dancers Paloma Hendry-Hodsdon, Hamish Jones, Bianca Juelg and Ethan Slocomb will perform in Swan Lake (Picture by David Caird) 2013

Signature moment for young Swan Lake dancers

By Sally Bennett
The Herald Sun
June 20, 2013

They may still be in primary school, but these young dancers are old hands at performing in the big league. The Australian Ballet School students have been cast in Swan Lake, opening at the State Theatre on Friday night.

Ballet master Tristan Message said most of the eight children in the production had already performed in professional ballets, just as he did as a boy. “The first time Graeme Murphy created The Nutcracker back in 1992, I was one of the children in that production,” he said.

“That was informative for me and helped me decide that ballet was what I wanted to do for a career. There’s a huge amount of excitement that goes with being in an enormous theatre and being around world-class dancers.”

The choreography is not difficult for the children to master. The greater challenge is getting them to understand the story and produce the appropriate dramatic response. They will play the children of characters in Swan Lake and be involved in several full rehearsals before opening night.

“The dancers are good at supporting and helping the children. It’s a rich and vivid environment and it’s great opportunity for them,” Message said.

“Being backstage with us is not the same as being backstage at a small ballet school. The sets are enormous, the costumes are quite ornate and that can be as inspiring and exciting for them as working with the dancers.”

Swan Lake runs until July 1.

Copyright 2013 News Limited

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10 Year-Old Balances School, Sports And Dance

By Alicia McGarry
Northland Lifestyle
Photograph by Deanna Johnson
June 10, 2013

Aidan Colligan, 10, dances balletand plays sports 2013

[Kansas City, Missouri, USA] – When Aidan Colligan told his friend he had signed up for ballet class, the boy immediately took the news to the top of a school chair in taunting proclamation, “Hey everybody, Aidan takes ballet.” It might have been an embarrassing experience for Aidan, then 6, if it weren’t for one thing: No one cared. “So I guess some people think ballet is for girls only, but others don’t,” says Aidan, now 10. And it’s easy to see why. Not only has his gift catapulted him into some of the most coveted roles in ballet, his talents have served to imbue him with a level of confidence his mom, Jenifer, attributes to honing in early on Aidan’s natural abilities.

“Aidan was pretty shy when he was younger, and even as recently as two or three years ago was very, very, reluctant to try anything new,” Jenifer says. “But I had also seen that he was musically motivated, so thought it would be good for him to have a creative outlet.” That ballet and having a creative outlet would prove beneficial for Aidan proved to be an extraordinarily profound understatement. By his second year with the Kansas City Ballet, Aidan had landed a role in the party scene in their world-class production of The Nutcracker at The Kauffman Center.

In his third year with the Kansas City Ballet, Aidan was bestowed the high honor of playing the role of Clara’s brother Fritz in The Nutcracker. The prestige of playing Fritz as a third-year dancer wasn’t what was most important—for Aidan, it was:

“Aidan was pretty shy when he was younger, and even as recently boys in trouble and generally leading them into mischief,” he says. as two or three years ago was very, very, reluctant to try anything In fact, Aidan says his first experience performing in the cast of The Nutcracker is his most memorable life experience to date. The bolster in self-confidence and discipline Aidan has gained from ballet has extended much farther than the stage.

“Aidan is stronger and more physically toned, more coordinated, more flexible and more focused and disciplined as a result of having taken ballet,” Jenifer says.

Starting out as a relatively introverted kid reticent to try anything new, Aidan now also runs track in the spring and plays basketball in winter—both of which, he says, often conflict with ballet. No big deal, he says.

“If I miss ballet, I take a make-up class if that works, but if not—which is usually the case—I try to pay extra attention next class.”

When then, does Aidan squeeze in academics? Judging from his 97.5 cumulative percentage at St. Therese North, Aidan is handily juggling his schedule with gusto, and with the kind of confidence that can only come from the faith he has in the power of his own discipline and focus.

“I think Aidan’s experiences performing have shown him that if you just focus on doing your own part the right way, you can be a part of something really big,” Jenifer says.

Aidan agrees. “Ballet has given me the chance to feel like I’m really a part of something, instead of just watching ––and wondering.” His mom adds to that thought. “And giving him a little appreciation for the performing arts doesn’t hurt either,” Jenifer says.

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