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Interview by Gemma Wilson
Photograph by Jenny Anderson
Broadway.com
December 2, 2010

 

Age & Hometown: 11. Cincinnati, OhioBilly Elliot as one of five rotating title stars.not do it.” After his first audition in Chicago, he was the last Billy standing—but he was only eight. Three years, countless auditions and one stint in “Billy Camp” later, he was ready to take center stage. As for the character’s notoriously difficult Geordie brogue, Harrington says with a laugh, “I learned the Billy lines with the accent, so now I don’t even know how to say them in an American accent!”

Current role: Tapping into Broadway’s

Becoming Billy: At 11, Harrington is the youngest actor to play Billy Elliot on Broadway, and that may be because he and Billy have one very important thing in common: “I just really, really, really love to dance,” the rising Broadway star says. “I can’t

Forever Young: Being too young is the story of Harrington’s life. At three, he was “dancing in the aisles” at big sis Allix’s dance competitions, though he wasn’t allowed to compete himself until age five. When waiting to grow into Billy, he made his Broadway debut in How the Grinch Stole Christmas one year and traveled to Nashville with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular the next. His mother describes him as “11 going on 30,” (which is why she lets him watch his favorite show, How I Met Your Mother) but show-biz life can be challenging. “Sometimes I miss sleeping in my own bed,” he admits, “and I haven’t had a real house in a little while, but I get to be on Broadway and that’s pretty cool.”

The Gift of Dance: In his down time, Harrington indulges in his favorite pastime: choreography. “I like using props,” he explains. “I’ll use anything—right now I like using the stepladder we used to put up the curtains in our apartment.” What may seem like dance overload isn’t surprising from a kid known for giving away his Christmas gifts. “I don’t wanna play with a toy, I wanna dance,” he says. “Maybe I’ll ask for an iTunes gift card when I need new songs, but that’s about it.” Could anything tear him away from life as a dancer? Harrington admits he wouldn’t say no to his own show on Nickelodeon. “It would be like The Suite Life of Zach and Cody,” he says with a flourish, “but cross out ‘Zach and Cody’ and write ‘Joseph!’”

© 2011 Broadway.com, Inc.

 

Related Articles:  Young dancer bound for Broadway
                           Building an Army Of Billy Elliots
                           The Boy Ballet Dancer

 

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By Michael Drakulich
Photograph by Matthew Grotto
The Southtown Star
December 28, 2010
[Abridged]    Full Article

 

Twelve-year-old Riley McMurray’s schedule isn’t exactly ho-hum — there’s his daily schoolwork, dance class, and he wwplays saxophone in the school band. Not to mention, he’s dancing in the Joffrey Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” through Dec. 26.

“I’m just having so much fun,” Riley said. “I want to keep going and going.”

Riley is one of several youngsters from the Southland getting a taste this holiday season of what it’s like to be a professional dancer.

More than a dozen kids from the area since late September have been rehearsing on weekends — all for 10 minutes or so on stage in the production playing this month at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. Four young dancers from the Southland were on stage for opening night Dec. 10 and were scheduled for several more performances.

The youngsters say their work is more than worth it. After all, it’s the Joffrey Ballet and a chance to be in its “Nutcracker” production.

Riley, of Oak Forest, is sort of a “Nutcracker” veteran, having performed in the show in three past years.

In addition to handling his schoolwork, he’s in dance class three hours a night, five times a week. His mother, Amy McMurray, said the schedule ramps up even more in the summer, when he is in class six days a week for a six-week intensive practice session.

But Riley doesn’t shy away from new challenges or a busy schedule. In each of his four years in the show, his role has increased, he said.

He still gets nervous. But once he gets past the first performance, he settles down, he said. His experience with the production is valuable practice for the career he wants as a professional dancer. It allows him to look around and imagine where he might be in a few years.

“It’s kind of exciting to see what my future might be,” he said.

Being in “The Nutcracker” cast is a first for Patrick Sullivan, 12, of Tinley Park. He has performed in “Hansel and Gretel” with his dance studio in Homer Glen but not in any production this big.

Patrick has been dancing for five years. He remembers being little and seeing people dancing in a studio and wanting to do the same. Now that he’s gotten a taste of what it’s like to be on a big stage, he’s hooked. “I was nervous at first. I’ve never performed in front of audiences that big before. But I definitely want to do it again,” he said.

After rehearsing on weekends for more than two months and although he is sore after every rehearsal, Patrick finds the energy to talk at length about his experience on rides home, said his mother, LeaAnne Sullivan. He can’t seem to contain his excitement, she said.

Patrick, who has played summer baseball, said even though some people may not believe so, dancing is just as hard if not harder than playing sports.

He does it for another benefit as well. “It’s a great way to meet girls,” he said.

 

© Copyright 2010 Sun-Times Media, LLC

By Liam Ryan
The Stonnington Leader
Photograph by Mark Wilson
December 9, 2010

 

THESE dancers are jumping for joy, thanks to recent good form.

The South Melbourne and Armadale Dance Centre is kicking up its heels over its students’ successes.

Ben Carter and Tim Stoney have received ballet scholarships, and Isaac and Jacob Moulton, tap scholarships, from the internationally recognised British Ballet Organisation.

Ben was one of three dancers to receive a perfect score in BBO exams. Jacob also won a scholarship to study tap and theatrical dance in New York.

Collectively, the school has won a teacher aggregate troupe award at the State Dance Competitions. Director Caroline Dall is thrilled. “We have just had a completely brilliant year,” she said. “The standard of our staff is pretty high. That makes a big difference.”

The school tutors classical ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and singing for children aged five to 18.

It’s looking to take in more young dancers who might not normally afford its classes, with four full scholarships for dancers aged 11 and over, funded by an anonymous donor.

 

© 2010 News Community Media

BY FLORA CAUCHI
Hills News
Photograph by Natalie Roberts
December 14, 2010

 

BEING accepted into the prestigious Australian Ballet School is a dream that many ballet dancers won’t fulfil.  But Castle Hill classical ballet dancer Harrison Lee did so when he was only eight years old.

Harrison, now 11, was recently cast in the ensemble of The Nutcracker at the Sydney Opera House, his third professional production with The Australian Ballet. The sold-out performance premiered on December 3 and Harrison said he was excited and nervous about his first night.

“It was very relaxing backstage, so I tried not to think about what I had to do too much,” he said. “I think the show put a lot of impact on people by seeing young people performing like this. And it might inspire other people to start dancing.”

The St Angela’s School pupil started dancing at the age of five after joining his sister’s dance class. And he hasn’t looked back.

He has won many McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod awards — including gold in the boys’ dance category in September — successfully held a spot as an interstate student at the Melbourne-based Australian Ballet School for three years and is starting a scholarship with The McDonald College at North Strathfield next month.

Mum Cindy said she was overwhelmed when Harrison was accepted on the spot to join the ballet school in 2007. “He auditioned and normally dancers have to wait a while to find out, but Leigh Rowles (the head of student training) walked out of the room and asked if he could start next week,” she said.

“We’ve been going to Melbourne once a month for classes and private lessons until he is old enough to move there and study full time.”

Harrison said it was a privilege to learn from the professional dancers and teachers of the school. “I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing how different teachers teach,” he said. “It helps with my corrections because every teacher notices different things to correct.

“I’m looking forward to starting my scholarship next year, to meet new people and new teachers.”

Copyright © 2010. Fairfax Media

Related Article: Castle Hill dancer sure has rhythm

 

 

By: Casey Phillips
Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee
Chattanooga Times Free Press
December 14, 2010

 

It didn’t take Alex Griffith long to fall in love with acting. Just a year after taking the stage for the first time, Alex, 12, has already decided acting is what he wants to do for life. “I get a thrill out of acting,” Alex said. “Once you start, if you like it enough, you can’t stop. You just want to keep doing it more and more.”

 

Alex said he was already head over heels last December before he finished his first performance as the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s Youth Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Although Alex first auditioned for the role of Tiny Tim, Theatre Centre producing director George Quick said he was so impressed he decided to cast him in a larger role. The Ghost was a more involving part, especially for an untried actor, but Quick said he was confident in Alex’s abilities.

“I was amazingly impressed with him, right from the get-go, because of the fact that he, quite fearlessly, jumped in and did what was asked of him,” Quick said. “He has an innate talent and understanding that is a little beyond his years for things like style and accent and character motivation.”

After aiding Ebenezer Scrooge’s change of heart, Alex returned to the Chattanooga Theatre Centre stage in February as Si Crowell in a production of Thornton’s Wilder’s play “Our Town.” This summer, he took on his first leading role as Jess Aarons in the Theatre Centre production of “Bridge to Terabithia.”

Alex also recently began exploring a new artistic path as a party boy in Chattanooga Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” Although he’s not a fan of wearing tights or dancing, he said he appreciated the chance to broaden his horizons. “It’s definitely good to get the experience,” he said. “That’s giving me the experience for anything I would need to be in a big play in a major role.”

Alex’s father and mother, Rick Griffith and Donna Griffith, have used his involvement in the arts as a way to bring the family closer together. Rick Griffith has helped build stage props for original scripts Alex began writing last year, and both he and Alex’s mother regularly volunteer at the Theatre Centre.

Even after seeing his son take the stage more than a dozen times in “Bridge to Terabithia,” Rick Griffith said he wasn’t alone in being moved by his son’s performance. “He brought me to tears several times,” Griffith said. “I’m getting teared up now just thinking about it. Just watching him and the way he’s grown in such a short time and having a God-given talent — the fact that he acknowledges that is a big deal for me.”

 

Copyright ©2010, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc

LISA QUEEN
Inside Toronto
December 12. 2010

 

The best part about being a mouse in The Nutcracker is hiding under a mattress and then emerging to sniff some cheese, eight-year-old Michael Moreno says.

The Grade 3 student at York’s Portage Trail Junior Community School will be one of more than 250 students from the National Ballet School and high schools in the Toronto area participating in the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker running from Dec. 11 to Jan. 2 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Michael, who will appear in five performances on Dec. 11, 16, 21, 24 and 28, is excited about appearing in the production. “It’s fun because we get to go (hide) in beds…and you get to do different stuff,” he said.

He has spent half his life in dance, an activity he clearly enjoys. “Actually, I am (good). I do acro, I do hip hop, I do ballet, I do tap. (I like it) ’cause it is fun and I get to do different dances. You don’t always do the same,” he said. “It makes me feel happy because we get to know different moves.”

While some of his friends have suggested he give up dance for athletic pursuits like hockey, Michael knows he’s in the right activity. “My friends, they think I should go in one of this sports thing, but I would rather do dancing because dancing is good for you. It’s good exercise,” he said.

When Michael was four, his mother, Robyn Moreno, used to take him to see his older sister perform at a dance studio. After he expressed an interest in joining, she signed him up for dance classes run through the city at Fairbank Community Centre.

He loved it so much, his mom soon signed him up at his sister’s dance studio, where he has taken classes in several different techniques such as ballet and jazz. Last year, he began competing in hip hop and tap.

When his mother suggested auditioning for the Canada’s National Ballet School, Michael leapt at the chance. He was accepted into the junior boys B program, which he began in September.

Over the next several weeks, an official assessed whether any of the children would be able to perform in The Nutcracker. On Oct. 22, Michael learned he had been selected and has been rehearsing ever since.

Just because Michael is kept busy with school, dance classes and rehearsing, it doesn’t mean he’s neglecting his future. He is contemplating a career as a dancer, a police officer, a firefighter or a dad.

When asked if he couldn’t combine being a father with one of his other job prospects, Michael figured he’d have his hands full taking his two kids to school and making them lunch and dinner and doing laundry and other stuff to handle a career at the same time.

Michael has some advice for anyone thinking of taking up dancing, especially those who may be good enough to perform in The Nutcracker. “I am a good dancer and they should try out too for The Nutcracker because maybe they will find out for themselves (how much fun it is),” he said.

 

© Copyright Metroland 2010

By Stephen Brown
The Palm Beach Illustrated
December 2010

 

Few people ever realize their dream, let alone accomplish it by their 15th birthday. Tommy Batchelor, however, is living his dream. The 15-year-old dancing phenom, fresh off a stint at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre and Chicago’s Oriental Theatre as the title character in Billy Elliot, The Musical, Batchelor is making his triumphant return to his hometown of Palm Beach Gardens—as a prince, no less. Performing the role of The Prince/Nutcracker in the iconic holiday ballet, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Batchelor will fight the evil Mouse King and escort his princess, Marie, to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Miami City Ballet’s rendition at the Kravis Center, December 3-5.

   Tommy Batchelor, who trained at the Palm Beach Ballet Center and BAK Middle School of the Arts, has spent the last two years pursuing his dream in New York City and Chicago, performing for audiences well versed in the art of dance. “Performing in front of such a large audience made every show the best time of my life,” says Batchelor. “The reaction from the audience keeps you pumped. Many audience members even meet you at the stage door to get autographs, or just talk after the show.” 

   Performing in some capacity on stage in nearly every minute of the two-hour, 50-minute show, playing the title role in Billy Elliot, The Musical is not only physically demanding on young performers, but mentally as well. Incorporating dance, song, acting and tap, performers need to be versed in an array of techniques to even be considered for the part. Consequently, the part of Billy Elliot is split between a number of actors to keep up with the demand of the role, alternating performances nightly. For Batchelor, this was not just a challenge relished, but also an indelible learning experience that will serve him and his craft well into the future.

   “I’ve learned a lot about acting and dancing in Billy Elliot,” says Batchelor. “I’ve got the confidence to perform in a long running show; I learned how to pace myself. And I feel I’ve learned a lot about facial expression and timing, allowing me to make every role my own.”

   This confidence will come in handy this week when Batchelor tackles the role of The Prince/Nutcracker, which not only challenges the performer as a dancer but also as an actor. “One of the most challenging scenes is the ‘Mime scene’ where I tell the story in mime,” he says. “It involves some dancing, but really requires facial expression and precise body position to convey the story properly.” And as for being back home, Batchelor says: “It’s always nice to perform for the home crowd.”

 

© 2010 Palm Beach Media Group

By Tommy Tracy
Palm 2 Jupitor
December 2, 2010

 

Garden Teen leaps onto stage with the Nutcracker   Pages 16-17

 

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