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Thomas Dilley at Premiere DanceElite studio, Tuggerah. He started taking ballet seriously when he was 12 (Peter Clark) 2015

 

By Terry Collins
The Daily Telegraph
November 23, 2015

 

[New South Wales, Australia] – When he was five, Thomas Dilley started a dance class with his older sister. A year later, she left the class, but he kept on and now, the Bateau Bay 16-year-old is set to move to Melbourne to study fulltime with the Australian Ballet School.

Thomas will feature as one of just 51 selected artists from all over the state in this year’s Schools Spectacular on Friday and Saturday [November 27th & 28th 2015] ahead of his move to Melbourne early next year.

“Thomas was offered a scholarship to study with the Australian Ballet when he was 13, but at that time, we couldn’t relocate the entire family to Melbourne and we felt he was too young to live so far from home,” his mum Julie Dilley said. “But now the ballet school has a boarders’ residence for its students and we feel the time is right.”

Thomas, who studies via distance education, has applied for a scholarship, but will attend the school next year with or without one. “He will go even if we have to beg, borrow or steal the money to send him,” Mrs Dilley said. “Thomas only started to take ballet seriously when he was 12 after his teachers saw his potential and now it is his sole focus.”

Since his original scholarship offer, Thomas also excelled at the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition in New York last year, making it to the final 12 from a field of thousands. “He was offered several scholarships at that time to the US, Russia and Monaco, but he was too young at the time and we could not afford fares and accommodation for him,” Mrs Dilley said. “Even so, it was an amazing achievement.”

Thomas can’t wait to further his ballet experience. “I am so excited to be studying at a ballet school with such amazing teachers and facilities,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to join a well-known ballet company, either in Australia or overseas. To be paid to do something I love so much is my dream.”

Thomas looks well set on his path to a professional ballet career.

The young dancer, who trains at least six hours every day, will feature in an ensemble ballet piece and perform a contemporary solo piece at the Spectacular at Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney. The show was this year opened to distance education students and it will be his first Spectacular experience. “I’ve wanted to do it for so long, but never had the opportunity before,” he said.

It will be televised on Channel 9.

 

Copyright 2015 News Limited

 

Read more about Thomas: Thomas Dilley, 15, to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix

 

 

 

Teenager’s securing of contract as the Paris Opera Ballet’s first Chinese dancer after four years of hard training is highlight of Jean M Wong’s 55 years as a dance teacher, she says of ex-pupil

 

Lam Chun-wing, at the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet in North Point (Franke Tsang)

 

By Fionnuala McHugh
South China Morning Post
August 15, 2015

 

[Hong Kong] – In 2011, Lam Chun-wing won a place at the Paris Opera Ballet School. He was then 14, the son of an engineer and primary school teacher. He’d just finished form three at STFA Lee Shau Kee College in Kwai Tsing, he liked listening to Leona Lewis and he loved Black Swan. Of Natalie Portman’s Portman’s unhinged striving for perfection, he once said: “I cried. It took half an hour to calm down – that movie takes your heart out.”

A young Lam at Miss Wong's School of Ballet

 

Lam in a dress rehearsal at Sha Tin Town Hall in 2009

He was a little shy, jet-lagged and sneezy after two weeks of summer school with the Royal Ballet in London, where he’d been desperately homesick. He knew no French. This writer, who interviewed him at the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet’s headquarters in North Point (he’d started at the school’s Tsuen Wan studio, aged seven), wanted to wrap him in cotton wool. How would he fare in the shark tank – forget swans – of the overseas ballet world?

Four years on, Lam has just become the first Chinese member of the Paris Opera Ballet. The achievement is truly remarkable.

The Paris Opera Ballet was founded in 1669, and is the world’s oldest national ballet company. To survive four years of its Darwinian system is a feat of endurance. When Lam started, he and a Ukrainian boy were the only two non-French students in his dance class. “He was my best friend,” says Lam. “And at the end of the first year he was kicked out.”

Lam at the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet in 2011Jean Wong, sitting in on this interview with her daughter Liat Chen, who’s now the school’s director, winces a little at the term. But she knows the unsentimental winnowing of dance. “The first three years were really, really difficult,” continues Lam, calmly. “Shall I explain?”

He now speaks beautifully measured English and French. He’s just as appealing in face and manner but he seems considerably more confident, and his high-stepping, feline grace draws every eye in the school’s corridors.

“I was always alone because I couldn’t communicate properly,” he says. “I was sleeping in a dormitory and I cried a lot. I couldn’t understand anything.” Because of the time difference between Paris and Hong Kong, he was given special permission to make morning phone calls. He rang his mother every day.

When he came home that first December, his parents told him that his aunt – to whom he was extremely close and who’d been particularly supportive of his dancing – had cancer. She died during his second year. He was allowed back to say goodbye; then he returned to his ballet history, anatomy and music exams (in French).

What saved him – apart from his art – were his weekend host families. The school closes every Friday at 5pm and the pupils disperse until Sunday at 8pm. Through Wong’s contacts, he initially stayed with a family in the 16th arrondissement, one of the most desirable districts in Paris. They later moved, as chance would have it, to Hong Kong.

Another host family have embraced him as a son and taught him to cook; he baked a walnut cake for Wong when she came to visit.

In his fourth year, he moved out of the school to flat-sit for the original family, and that’s when he bloomed. There is, after all, a crucial difference between loneliness and independence. Free from living among strangers, he strove joyfully alone. “He is exceptionally disciplined,” says Chen. “It’s quite scary how determined he is. He understands delayed gratification.”

The Paris Opera Ballet was his ultimate goal, but he auditioned for other companies, including, in February, the Hong Kong Ballet.

“They offered an apprentice contract,” he says. An apprentice is a level below the corps de ballet and the contract runs for 12 months. In Paris, he will be in the corps; and his contract lasts until the unimaginable age of 42. It’s the terpsichorean golden rice bowl.

The director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet is Benjamin Millepied, husband of actress Natalie Portman. Lam has already danced with the company – the five-degree incline of the Palais Garnier’s raked stage was an initial challenge – and met Millepied.

“I think he’s trying to promote young dancers earlier,” he says. “He’s a lot more open-minded. He didn’t have a career at the Paris Opera and I think he will bring good changes to it.” With that shift in rigid hierarchy, any opportunity for a fiercely focused dancer is possible.

He’s learned to be two people: “a different person in both cities,” he says. He finds himself thinking in French. Some of his Cantonese vocabulary is slipping away, and his knowledge of written characters is fading. He doesn’t have a French name but people address him as Mr Wing, which seems appropriate for someone now taking flight.

 

Life for the Lam family has been transformed in four years: his older sister was so taken with the French lifestyle she’s now studying translation in Lyon.

Last night and tonight, he’s dancing the role of Basilio in the school’s Stars of Tomorrow gala production of Don Quixote, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. That’s how it raises money for the kind of scholarship that funded his Paris adventure. One day, he says, he may become a teacher himself. But, first, there will be other roles.

It’s 55 years since Jean Wong, a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dance, set up a ballet school in Hong Kong, intended for the Chinese-speaking community, not the colony’s expatriates. She estimates that she’s taught more than 10,000 students in that time.

She’s still a wonderfully straight-backed, commanding presence who has seen a dream come true. “The highlight of my career,” she says – and she repeats this in the foreword of the Don Quixote programme – “is Lam Chun-wing’s admission to the Paris Opera Ballet School.”

 

Copyright © 2015 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd

 

Read more about Lam : Our own Billy Elliot

 

In November 2015, Lam wrote: It was 4 years ago, I was accepted by the Paris Opera Ballet School. While I was feeling overjoyed I made this music video to thank my teacher, Ms. Jean M. Wong for bringing me to audition in Paris and for letting me go aboard for professional ballet training.

This video shows more or less my journey in ballet and each person in the photos contributed a lot to my success today. Very touching to me to watch this again today……

By Tanya Rivero
The Wall Street Journal
December 12, 2014

 

[New York City, New York, USA] – “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” has been one of New York’s beloved annual Christmas traditions since 1954 when the New York City Ballet first produced the work.

There are 32 roles for boys in two casts of the ballet company’s production. Yet ever since that inaugural production of the classic, girls have had to fill many of those roles, their hair fastened tightly beneath their caps.

In more recent years, the dearth of boys for male roles has eased.

This season, all the roles intended for boys are being danced by boys, and auditions have gotten more competitive as interest has grown. And the ballet company’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet, which offers free tuition to boys, has seen a jump in enrollment in recent years.

A wonderful problem,” says Dena Abergel, City Ballet’s children’s ballet master, who casts and rehearses the Nutcracker children. “It’s definitely more competitive, which can be especially good for boys.”

Here’s a look at the changing face of the iconic production.

Copyright ©2014 Dow Jones & Co Inc

 

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Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

 

Read more about  Collin: Youngster performs in OBT’s Nutcracker

 

 

 

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Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

Striving to become the next Darcey Bussell or Wayne Sleep takes hours of dedication, determination – and heavy financial investment. Emily Woodrow speaks to five young Welsh dancers with a dream to succeed in the ballet world and discovers the major sacrifices that they and their families have made.

Read more: Blood, sweat & blisters

 

 

 

 

By Teenvogue

 

In this exclusive new series, follow six talented students as they strive for stardom at the School of American Ballet. With unprecedented access, you’ll go behind the scenes and inside the studio to see what it’s really like trying to land a spot on the prestigious Lincoln Center stage.

 

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Scenes from the Boys’ Dance Summer School, January 2014 at Shore School Sydney, with tutors Steven Heathcote, Bill Pengelly and Jason Duff.

For more information visit: www.boyssummerschool.net

 

 

Drew Minard on set of the music video Cherry on Top (Thomas Wolfe Northcut) 2014-01b

The 2013 Ballet finalist performance by David Preciado at the Spotlight Awards Gala presented by The Music Center of Los Angeles.

 

 

 

Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

A Special Gift (ABC After School Special 1979) is the story of  a 14 year-old basketball star who has been secretly studing ballet and his concern about what his peers may think when they find out.

Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

The Boys Program is a tuition-free course that was developed by Peter Martins at the School of American Ballet. (Introduction by Peter Martins, Cameron Dieck and  Jack Soto on teaching boys and commentary by the boys)

For more information on the Boys Programs visit SAB.org

Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel

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