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Schoolboy is lord of the ballet dance

Tyne Out,
The Hexham Courant
July 1, 2013

Jake Bradbury, 9, has been selected to join the RBS’s associate programme 2013[Northumberland, England] – Dancing schoolboy Jake Bradbury is turning dreams into reality after earning a place at the renowned Royal Ballet School in London. The nine-year-old, from Hexham, has not even seen the Billy Elliot film, or the musical, but is already on his way to emulating the lead character’s success. For Jake has been selected to join the RBS’s associate programme for juniors in September. Over the next two years, he will attend weekly classes in Newcastle and take part in all-boy sessions in the capital.

The pupil at Hexham’s Sele First School booked his place after impressing at a regional audition, with only a select few being chosen from about 1,000 hopefuls.

Few boys from Tynedale have made it to the world- famous RBS, but Jake is following in the footsteps of Rupert Jowett, a former graduate of the school, who now teaches at the Terpsichore Dance, on Fore Street, Hexham, where Jake’s skills have been nurtured.

Jake said: “It was a nice surprise to be chosen and I am looking forward to it. I really enjoy ballet and want to keep working hard and keep improving.”

The youngster has progressed remarkably since he was first introduced to ballet as a four year old, while living in the capital with mum, Judith, dad, Harry, and little sister Lola (5).

Jake’s instructor, Imogen Hollingsworth, said: “Jake is exceptionally talented and he is absolutely focused on what he is doing. He has already progressed very quickly through the grades with remarkable results, and I believe he will continue to do so.

“He was put through a very rigorous audition, following which the RBS judges were very selective because there is such a lot of demand for places.”

Jake is one of almost a dozen boys who take part in ballet classes at Terpsichore.

Imogen said that over the past decade, more boys have become interested in ballet and other forms of dance.

She added: “There is always the stereotype about ballet being for girls. But working with Jake, we’ve put together a dance which suits him as an individual. There is nothing feminine about his physicality, co-ordination, turn-out and presentation, which is all very masculine. He’s received some support and inspiration from Rupert, and has done very well.”

Jake, who will not turn 10 until January, will join the dedicated RBS programme for eight to 10 year olds.

Multi-talented Jake is also into drama and regularly plays piano and violin. He also goes swimming, plays tennis and attends gymnastics sessions.

His mum, Judith, said: “When we were in London, the nursery Jake was at offered ballet and he enjoyed it. “It’s in the blood because his dad used to be a very good ballroom and Latin dancer, and was a European waltz champion.”

© 2013 Hexham Courant

Hard work paves the road for young SAB student

McKenzie Soares is a student at SAB 2013

By Thomas Leaf
The Tribuna
July 3, 2013

[Danbury, Connecticut, USA] – McKenzie Soares. Remember that name, because it just may be that you will be hearing it in the future. Right now, McKenzie looks and seems like any other fourth grader at King Street Middle School but he is also a student at the Lincoln Center School of American Ballet and the prized pupil at the Academy of Dancing Arts in Brookfield, Connecticut. His mother is a Brazilian immigrant that works as a housecleaner to support her son.

The average day for McKenzie is to get up and go to school like any other 4th grader but once school is out, his mother, Ana, picks him up and the two of them head down Route 684 to New York City, where McKenzie studies all forms of modern and classical dance at the prestigious School of American Ballet.

For those unaware, the School of American Ballet is a selective and elite school that teaches students to become professional dancers and 90 percent of the New York Ballet are SAB graduates.

His most recent achievement was to be accepted to the Bolshoi Summer Program, an intensive program run by one of the oldest ballet companies in the world. Think of it as developmental academy for the world’s most promising talent. If ballet has a minor league, this is it.

McKenzie’s story, though, is one of sacrifice and dedication. At ten years old, he travels to and from New York City from Danbury every day to engage in athletics at the same level as Olympic gymnasts. When people conjure images of ballet, they think of tutus and point shoes. They do not think of the hundreds of hours spent forging a body of athletic prowess that a Navy SEAL would envy. The explosive strength, endurance, flexibility and agility required to perform at the level this ten year old boy is able to command his body to exert is on a level that is preternatural. The hard work has paid off. Since 2009, McKenzie has competed in 14 dance competitions and placed first in all of them. Perhaps that is why he enjoys as much community support as he does.

As members of the Emmanuel Assembly of God Church, Ana and McKenzie have found what every immigrant family needs, a welcoming and supportive community. The Emmanuel Church discovered this young talent and rallied around him, soliciting financial support on his behalf to pay for the costs of transporting McKenzie to and from training and to pay for his admission to SAB and if financial support allows, to pay for his admission to the Bolshoi Summer Program.

If McKenzie played football as well as he performed ballet, you’d be hearing more about him from other news outlets. But being exceptional at ballet for a boy is sometimes looked at as being unworthy of accolade or comment, which is more of a sad commentary on us than on this young man.

Remember the name McKenzie Soares, because you will be reading about him as he continues to do the work necessary to excel in this small elite field of artistic athleticism. And if you think the boy worthy, support his cause and help his mother pay for the $400 she spends in gas every week to drive her son to ballet class. Help her pay for McKenzie’s tuition. Think of it as an investment, not in this boy’s dream, but in developing a cultural outlet for Danbury. Helping a boy like McKenzie achieve such heights not only helps him, it helps you and it helps all of us because an investment in McKenzie’s dance is an investment in art. He’s going places with or without your help; the difference is that you can have the opportunity to say, “I helped him get there.”

To find out more about how you can help young McKenzie, you can contact his mother Ana Bernardino at or Reverend Jackson Meirinho of Emmanuel Church at 203-870-5571.

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