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Category Archives: News Story 2011

Sir David Frost travels to Havana, Cuba, to meet the world’s most celebrated male ballet dancer in his homeland.

The Frost Interview
Al Jazeera News
December 15, 2012

(Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar)

Carlos AcostaIn this episode of The Frost Interview, Sir David Frost travels to Havana, Cuba, to learn how a boy who used to run the streets barefoot became the world’s most talented ballet dancer.

Carlos Acosta’s family was desperately poor. Pedro, his father, had fallen in love with ballet when as a young man, he had sneaked into a cinema that was reserved for whites to watch grainy pictures of ballet dancers.

When Pedro heard that Cuba’s ballet schools offered free food, he sent his son Carlos off to ballet school. Reluctant at first, the young Acosta quickly thrived, and by the age of 16 he was already internationally renowned.

“I wanted to become a footballer … but obviously my father had different plans,” Acosta tells Sir David.

“That’s the beauty of my life … How can a truck driver have this will to get his son to become a ballet dancer when most fathers would like their son to become something else?”

He speaks to Sir David about how it felt to be an impoverished outsider in a world generally reserved for the privileged, and what it meant to his family when he achieved a level of success which no one could have ever dreamed of.

Growing up in Cuba, Acosta says: “There was a sense of community in the 1980s that was just wonderful, because you could just go next door and talk to a neighbour and the neighbour might lend you some eggs or something and you repay the eggs once you get something.”

Sir David shows Acosta clips of himself returning years later to Havana as principle dancer with the Royal Ballet, and we see the delight on his face as he relives the experience of bringing one of the world’s premiere ballet companies to Havana.

And of the Cuban love of dance, he says: “It’s the sun, the sea, the sky, it’s happiness, and also it’s something that we inherit because you open your eyes and you see your father and your mother dancing around in the background, dancing while they’re cooking. You know they say they are even dancing when they walk. It is wonderful … Everything in our culture inspires us to dance.”

Acosta also tells Sir David of his plans to help realise the long-held Cuban dream of an architecturally-outstanding, world-class ballet school forming part of a City of the Arts on the grounds of a former golf club.

Southern Daily Echo
August 1, 2012

A schoolboy is pirouetting his way towards his dream after being awarded a place at one of the world’s greatest ballet schools.

Louis Scrivener, 11, a pupil at Sherborne House School in Chandler’s Ford , has become one of just 24 pupils selected for the Royal Ballet School in September.

Louis first developed a love for ballet at just five years old after watching Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet with his family one Christmas. In January 2006, his mother enrolled him at the Sally Johnson Academy of Dance where he learned ballet, tap, modern and jazz dance.

A Royal Ballet associate, Louis landed his first role in their production of Sleeping Beauty in 2011 and will join fellow students in The Nutcracker at The Royal Opera House later this year. He has also performed with Sally Johnson Academy of Dance in Dance Proms at The Royal Albert Hall and took first place at the All England Dance National Finals.

Copyright 2012 Newsquest Media (Southern) Ltd

By Tracey Romero,
Yahoo! Voices Contributor
August 5, 2012

Note: Boys and Ballet is mentioned in this article. Thanks Ms. Romero! –The Crew

I have to admit that when my oldest son was 3 years old, I automatically signed him up for the usual boy activities, soccer, basketball, and t-ball, not even considering that there might be other options besides sports for him.

When my middle son Gabriel was at the age to get involved, I just figured that he would follow the same path. Thank goodness for his twin sister. At four, she joined a tumble class and since there was another boy in the class, my husband and I asked Gabriel if he wanted to join too. At the school’s most recent recital I watched my shy, introverted son transform into a confident performer. Boys bring their own pizazz to the stage.

As male dancers gain more visibility in all male casts on Broadway like “Newsies” and movies like “Step Up Revolution,” hopefully more parents will see how the arts benefit all children, not just our little girls.

This visibility is not just in Hollywood or New York City though. It can also be found on the web. More news outlets are writing articles about how it is becoming more acceptable, and all male ensembles like “Against the Grain/Men In Dance” are increasing in popularity. On one site, a group of boys along with their parents have their own blog about ballet. There is even an online specialty clothing shop geared towards boys.

Despite all this, some boys still struggle with their desire to perform. “Everywhere you go there isn’t a real appreciation for boys in any of the arts,” said Thom McIntyre, creative director and owner of Philadelphia Dance Center in an interview. “It can be rough for boys depending on where they live. Parents need to be supportive.”

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by Tina Miles,
Liverpool Echo
February 03, 2012

Cute ballet duo Tayluer and Elliott were today working hard to top their last Got To Dance routine, which wowed fans including Boy George.

Tayluer Amos, 10, and Elliott Hanna, eight, have not stopped smiling after winning a spot in the Sky 1 show’s live final.

The best friends won the hearts of the nation in the first of the semi-finals and moved a step closer to winning the £250,000 prize. And they brought Culture Club star Boy George to tears. The DJ, whose real name is George O’Dowd, wrote on Twitter: “Tayluer & Elliot were amazing on Got To Dance. Made me cry! Beautiful!” He also told his 183,000 followers: “Loved Tayluer & Elliot and Prodajig, both were amazing on Got To Dance! Amazing!”

Choreographer Nazene Langfield teaches Tayluer, from Netherley, and Elliott, from Tuebrook, at her dance school in Old Swan. She said: “We were all thrilled at Sunday’s results. There are less than five weeks to go, so it’s right back to the drawing board with no time to sit back or celebrate. We need to find the perfect song to dance to. And we’re working on a routine that will top their last performance. Elliott is in the gym so we can attempt higher lifts. The children have to shoot a new VT for the show. And we will need to start designing new costumes. So it is all go.”

She admitted they had a “challenging” few weeks ahead, but said the pair could more than handle the pressure. She said: “They are two very focused, lovely young children who simply love to dance. And I think that is why they did so well, as their lovely personalities and their obvious dedication shone through.

“It is lovely to see children being shown is a positive light and a wonderful achievement for Liverpool. It shows once again we have a talented city. I’ve taught Tayluer since she was three and Elliot since he was four. So I’m bursting with pride.”

They will perform in the Got To Dance finale in front of 6,000 people in London on Sunday, March 4 at 6pm on Sky 1HD.

© Copyright 2012 Trinity Mirror

By Ben Mitchell
The Enterprise
Photograph by OBT
December 20, 2011

When Jennifer Strelkauskas saw her six-year-old son, Collin Trummel, dancing around the house, she knew she had to do something about it. “I was mostly just dancing to music,” explains Trummel, who is now nine. “Mom said maybe I should go and try ballet.”

It turned out to be a good suggestion. Trummel, who is currently performing in the illustrious Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” has been invited back year after year by the OBT to perform with the company’s troupe of seasoned dancers. He has also received hundreds of dollars in scholarships from the OBT to help offset the cost of tuition for the classes Trummel takes when he is not busy practicing for a performance.

Although his mother first suggested he try ballet, Trummel opted to enroll in gymnastics, but soon found himself at odds with the sport. “It was pretty hard,” he recalls. “I didn’t like it.”

Strelkauskas then looked for opportunities for Trummel to dance in the Gorge. Lessons were available at the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy in Hood River, but not for the summer when Trummel wanted to take them.

The decision was then made to take classes at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland, Ore., a professional institution that dubs itself “one of the pre-eminent ballet schools in the country.” Trummel had to audition for the school, which deemed the youngster worthy enough for its instruction.

However, accepting the offer meant that three times a week, Trummel and his mother would have to travel over 2.5 hours roundtrip to Portland to attend the hour-long class. Trummel says that he has no problem with finding ways to occupy his time on the commute. “I like reading a lot, so it wasn’t bad,” he says. “Sometimes I couldn’t get out of my book and get my ballet clothes on fast enough.”

Trummel’s schedule requires that he leaves school about 30 minutes early on Mondays, Fridays, and the occasional Wednesday that is not early release. However, this has not interfered with his schoolwork, as Trummel will go in early or use his lunch period to complete assignments, as well as participating in Whitson’s Talented and Gifted after-school program.

Strelkauskas praises the teachers and other staff members at Whitson for their willingness to accommodate Trummel. “We are incredibly lucky with how amazingly supportive the school has been.”

Trummel’s fourth grade classmates have also been generally supportive of his artistic endeavors. Every once in awhile though, he says a student will deride him for his interest in ballet, particularly because he is male.

“Some people kind of tease me about it,” he admits. “I tell them ballet needs male dancers, because they have to pick up and hold the female dancers.”

However, Trummel is quick to point out that most get a hoot out of his ballet prowess. When he told one of his friends about his hobby, the friend laughed but replied with “that is awesome!”

Whitson students got to decide for themselves last year when the PTO furnished transportation for every member of Trummel’s class to see him peform in OBT’s 2010 run of “The Nutcracker.” Strelkauskas was able to help procure individual tickets for the students at a paltry $5 a pop.

Preparing for these performances takes a large degree of dedication and attention, particularly for an elementary student. Strelkauskas explains that the OBT’s production of “The Nutcracker” uses the version laid out by the late choreography virtuoso, George Balanchine. Considered intellectual property, dancers must perform the copywritten steps exactly as outlined by Balanchine decades ago. Additionally, Trummel says even if there is an act currently being rehearsed that does not require him to be on stage, he still must sit in the audience and pay attention in case a correction is made for the performance. During the weeks of the actual performance, Trummel is required to show up already in light makeup hours before the show even starts.

Despite all the hard work, Trummel says he absolutely loves performing with the OBT and the dancers. “It’s really fun to watch them dance,” he says, “because they’re professionals.”

In “The Nutcracker,” Trummel plays the role of Fritz: the unruly brother who smashes the titular Nutcracker, which is a toy of his sister, Clara.

Trummel says that his brother believes it is a role he was born to play. “He thinks it’s perfect,” Trummel laughs. “He says, ‘Oh yes, that’s the perfect thing for Colin. He makes a good bratty brother.'”

After the play closes at Keller Auditorium on Christmas Eve, Trummel plans on continuing with the OBT and would perhaps like to have a career as a ballet teacher or a vet, like his mother.

Both his mother and his grandmother started ballet when they were five and Trummel hopes to pass this love of dance onto his own children, just as it has been passed down to him.

“Ballet blood is in the family,” he says. “I hope my kids have ballet blood too.”

© 2011 Eagle Newspapers, Inc.

This is a story which appeared in the Greenwich Times last January.

By Frank MacEachern
Photograph by Helen Neafsey
The Greenwich Times
January 3, 2011

A 13-year-old Greenwich resident is making his mark in the competitive New York City ballet scene.

Addison Albano, an 8th-grade student at Brunswick School, is dancing as “Fritz,” one of the main characters in the The Nutcracker, performed by the American Ballet Theatre.

He’s thrilled to be a part of the prestigious show.

“It’s a world premiere and I love performing, it’s my passion,” he said about the ballet that is choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. “Just to be a part of something this big is amazing and fun.”

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By Jullianne Evans
The Waiheke Gulf News
December 22, 2011

Rising Waiheke dance star Kit Reilly talks to Julianne Evans about the first steps towards his dream job.

The day 14-year-old Kit Reilly found out he’d been accepted by the prestigious New Zealand School of Dance, he was in the middle of class at Takapuna Grammar.

“Mum had the envelope at home and asked me if I wanted her to open it; and I could tell she really wanted to,” he laughs.

The letter confirmed that Kit’s audition to become a ‘junior associate’ of the school had been successful and his first challenge would be in January 2012, when he was offered a week of master classes in Wellington.

“I was really excited because I auditioned last year and didn’t get in… I was so pleased I didn’t give up.”

Auditions for the school were held around the country in November and about 200 young hopefuls attended. Only seven new dancers were finally chosen.

The Junior Associate programme nurtures the next generation of New Zealand dancers, catering for a small number of notably talented young students aged 13 to 16, who show natural potential for both classical and contemporary dance.

The idea is to provide complementary tuition while students who hope to attend the school full time in the future, continue to study with their own dance teachers.

Kit hopes to go to classes in Wellington over four weekends next year where he will be appraised by staff, teachers and the head of the programme to see if he’s got what it takes to reach to the next level.

And wherever possible, he says, the junior students enjoy an active relationship with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, including master classes with the company when they are on tour.

They are also offered a partial scholarship to attend the annual winter school. The cost of the classes is covered but the travel and accommodation will be extra which is where the supportive parents come into it.

“Yes, both mum and dad have always encouraged me to follow this path if that’s what I want.”

Exciting stuff for a boy who has been dreaming of a career in the performing arts since he was seven.

“I started dancing at seven, but I thought I wanted to be an actor until I was about 10. It’s only in the last four years that I’ve really focussed on dance, and classical dance in particular.”

And now he lives and breathes it, attending about five classes a week in jazz, contemporary, tap and ballet at two different schools; the Devonport School of Dance, and the Rose McRae Dance Academy which runs classes on Waiheke.

And as a male, he is still very much in the minority. “I’m the only boy in my ballet class but there are more in other styles. And there are a few boys at Takapuna Grammar who dance so it’s not so unusual; but it’s more competitive for girls obviously as there are so many of them.”

I wonder how he settled on dance in preference to acting.

“I think I just decided it was my thing. It’s a good way to express yourself, it keeps you fit and I love being in front of an audience.”

Does he get nervous? “Yes, I was very nervous when I had to do a solo piece as part of the end of year recital for my dance school at the Bruce Mason Centre.” But fortunately, it was alright on the night.

The life of a professional dancer is notoriously tough; does he think he can cope?

“I think you have to work very hard and keep up your conditioning at home. And you have to know you are going to suffer disappointments and move on, work past it.”

He admits that last year, he had an exam result he was less than happy with.

“But you know you’re not alone. Other people have the same disappointments, so you can hopefully get through it together.”

And in an ideal world, what does the future look like?

“I want to carry on as I am for a few years, finish my schooling, and then apply for the New Zealand School of Dance to study full time for two or three years. And then, hopefully, get into any professional company.”

Anywhere in the world? “Anywhere that will have me!”

Well, the odds are pretty good if he is accepted and graduates. Sixteen of the 24 students graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in November this year have already secured professional jobs.

The class of 2011 will be taking up positions in among others, the West Australian Ballet, New Zealand contemporary company Black Grace, the Singapore Dance Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company.

So it looks like the passport to big, bright things. “Yes, that’s what I’m hoping,” he smiles. Watch this space. • Julianne Evans

The Lincolnshire Echo
Photograph by Tim Cross
November 28, 2011

A schoolboy from Lincoln has been selected to train at a ballet school which has turned out stars for some of the biggest dance companies in the world. At just 16, Thomas Arnold has started studying a three-year degree in professional dance and performance at the Central School of Ballet (CSB), in London.

He was one of only 38 pupils accepted from more than 420 applicants for a place on the course. The school has seen performers go on to dance with the English National Ballet, Ballet Ireland, Ballet Boyz and the Singapore Ballet.

“I started dancing after I went with my mum to her tap class when I was four,” said Thomas, from the West Parade area of the city. I’m not quite sure what keeps me so focused, but I like the competition ballet offers. There is always something to work for, you can never be perfect. My ambition is to go on and do this professionally.

“Starting this course there is a lot of work done on training; it’s all about ironing out bad habits and starting fresh. My parents are very proud.”

Thomas spends around six hours a day doing ballet and other types of dance such as contemporary movement and Spanish styles. The other three hours of the working day – which he attends Monday to Friday as well as Saturday morning – are spent on academic work which makes up around 30 per cent of the course. To get a place he had to dance in front of the teachers, all of whom are ex-professional dancers.

Mum Jayne Arnold, a primary school teacher, said: “We’re incredibly proud of him and what he’s achieved. We don’t know where he gets it from as I’ve got no rhythm and my husband Paul has two left feet. “It’s like magic I can’t describe to watch him dance.”

Before landing the place at CSB, he had attended the Elmhurst School of Dance in Birmingham where he gained one A* and four As at GCSE.

He trained at Janet Revan’s School of Dance in Lincoln between the age of 6 and 10. Miss Revan said: “He had natural talent, he had beautiful feet and loose limbs and the right body type. Thomas was also very well focused. It’s rewarding to see him go on and do so well.”

The places at CSB are funded as a regular university place would be, with fees this year being around £3,000 and expected to rise to £9,000 in line with the increases next year.

During his final year Thomas will join the school’s touring company Ballet Central, which visits venues across the UK.

Copyright © 2011 Northcliffe Media Limited

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