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Tag Archives: Ballet Scholarships for Boys

By Lynn Trimble
Raising Arizona Kids
April 2013

Ballet Arizona school director Carlos Valcárcel with dancers (from left) Brandon Broeker, CJ Damle and William and Ethan O’Neill 2013b

Though it’s been more than a decade since world-renowned dancer David Hallberg trained with Kee Juan Han at The School of Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, he hasn’t forgotten his Arizona roots.

Recently Ballet Arizona announced the creation of The David Hallberg Scholarship Program for Boys. Applications for the 2013-14 school year will be available June 1.

Hallberg also has established scholarships outside Arizona, sometimes making financial gifts in addition to lending his name.

“It’s important that young boys who want to dance have access to good training,” says Hallberg. “Good training is the foundation for a successful career in dance.”

Before attending Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, Hallberg went to a public school that seemed to operate in “survival of the fittest” mode. “It was very Lord of the Flies,” he quips. “I never hid the fact that I wanted to dance,” says Hallberg. “I was a huge target.”

Today, Hallberg is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York City and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

He’s kept in touch with 12-year-old Brandon Broeker of Phoenix, who takes classes four times a week at The School of Ballet Arizona, ever since a mutual friend introduced them last year.

Before settling on ballet, Brandon tried swimming, gymnastics, soccer, martial arts and several other sports, according to his mother, Beth Broeker. “Brandon likes the rigor and strict environment of ballet,” she says.

“I didn’t really want to do it at first,” recalls Brandon. He returned to sports after trying ballet for a while when he was 8 years old. Friends teased him, saying ballet was for girls. But Brandon learned that “a lot of other sports are sort of easy for me.”

Brandon tried ballet again when he was 10 years old. “It was different because there was another boy in the class,” says Brandon. “I felt more comfortable,” he says, “and I sort of fell in love with it.”

Some friends still think it’s not the right thing to do,” explains Brandon. “But others think it’s really cool.”

For other boys who might want to give it a try, Brandon has some advice: “Don’t argue with people who put you down for doing ballet. Just try to have fun with it.”

Learn more at

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Yorkshire Evening Post
March 27, 2013

Lorcan Justice-Mills has earned a scholarship from the English Youth Ballet 2013[Leeds, England] – He’s Leeds’ answer to Billy Elliot. Lorcan Justice-Mills has pirouetted his way to a prestigious ballet scholarship after beating off competition from over 100 young hopefuls.

The Richmond House pupil is one of three pupils across the country to be awarded a scholarship from the English Youth Ballet.

Last month he auditioned for the company’s production of Coppelia which will be performed at the Grand Opera House, in York. He said: “I am so excited about performing with the English Youth Ballet, I have seen them perform and they are amazing and now I’m going to be up there with them.

“I think the training schedule is going to be hard work but I can’t wait.”

The youngster began dancing at the school when he was seven.

© 2013 Johnston Publishing Ltd

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet
Press Release
March 12, 2013

CPYB Guest Teacher Daniel Ulbricht 2010b

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA –  Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) is expanding and formalizing its men’s dance training through an enhanced curriculum and dedicated program of study. To launch this initiative, CPYB is offering an opportunity for up to eight aspiring male dancers to receive two-years of uninterrupted training through generous, tuition free scholarships.

CPYB is offering scholarships to male students ages 14 to 19. This includes two consecutive academic year tuition scholarships, 5-Week Summer Ballet Program and August Course tuition scholarships, and a monthly housing stipend for 22 months.

“We want the students in this program to know that we have made a pledge to them. Upon receiving the scholarship they can rest assured that we are mutually committed for two years,” says Nicholas Ade, School Principal of CPYB.

Applicants will submit a video that will be judged by CPYB’s artistic leadership. “We are having students audition by video, rather than on-site auditions to lessen a student’s financial burden to travel. This opens up the opportunity for any male dancer who wants to pursue his dreams to apply,” explains Ade. “We are excited to accept audition tapes from across the country, or even around the world.”

For application deadlines and requirements, visit the CPYB’s Men’s Scholarship webpage:

About the Men’s Program

Mr. Ade joined CPYB as their School Principal in September of last year with a vision to enhance the Men’s Program. “In further developing the Men’s Program, we wanted to ensure that students who complete the program will come out prepared to succeed in the professional dance world,” explains Ade.

“Male dancers need specific training and mentoring to achieve professional success. CPYB is building upon the distinguished technical training and performance opportunities it already provides men with a fully developed curriculum, a proven faculty, and guidance by advisors who are experienced at helping male dancers achieve their potential. We are pleased to announce this exciting opportunity for male dancers,” says Ade.

The Men’s Program curriculum includes technique, partnering, men’s, and strength training classes. Students will also be educated about how to succeed in the dance world. A description of classes is attached.

This unique curriculum is just the beginning. Students will become part of a ballet school that has continually produced dancers for the top dance companies in the world. They will learn from an internationally renowned faculty, be mentored and taught about the requisites of being a male dancer by those who know, and have the opportunity to perform in a broad spectrum of repertories. The program’s environment stimulates camaraderie and healthy competition, all aimed at helping the student to fulfill his potential as a dancer.

CPYB MasterSeries White Swan pas de deux 2011bMarcia Dale Weary, Founding Artistic Director, adds “CPYB recognizes the importance of having a dedicated men’s program not only for developing male dancers but also for complementing female dancers’ training. This is a natural step in fulfilling our mission of making dance training available to all children and continuing our rich history of training tomorrow’s professional dancers.”

The Arizona Red Book
January 22, 2013

David Hallberg in Romeo and JulietDavid Hallberg, alumnus of The School of Ballet Arizona, has inspired support for future young male dancers. Ballet Arizona has announced a new scholarship in honor of one of the leading male dancers in the world. Hallberg is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York City and a premiere dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

He made history a little over a year ago when he became the first American to join the renowned Bolshoi, a move that evoked memories of Rudolf Nureyev’s and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s defection from Russia to dance in the West. Hallberg splits his time between the two pinnacle houses of the dance world, ABY in New York and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and has become a national celebrity, from appearing on such mainstream media as The Colbert Report and CBS Sunday this Morning to features in Vogue and W Magazine.

Hallberg attributes much of his success to the support and training he received in Phoenix at Ballet Arizona during the late ’90s and wishes to encourage more young boys to pursue dance.

“The intention of The David Hallberg Scholarship for Boys is to help nurture and facilitate training at The School of Ballet Arizona. It is never an easy feat to have the courage or the means to find your calling in ballet as a young boy,” Hallberg says, “but this scholarship will help facilitate that journey through financial support and guidance. My personal journey to finding ballet was riddled with hardships, but once ballet found a place in my life as a kid, I couldn’t let go of its exhilarating pulse. I have made it my career to date and to pass on the inspiration I felt when I was first discovering ballet is a completely invaluable experience.”

Hallberg will serve as a member of the scholarship’s selection committee with Ballet Arizona’s Artistic Director Ib Andersen and School Director Carlos Valcárcel. In addition, as available, he will oversee Master Classes for young dancers at Ballet Arizona’s new studios.

The David Hallberg Scholarship Program for Boys will award scholarships for ballet class tuition and supplies to boys who demonstrate a passion for ballet and meet the audition requirements of The School of Ballet Arizona.

Scholarships will be awarded to one or more boys from age 13 and older on an annual basis determined by audition and review of a written application. The number of scholarships will depend on funding of the program.

Read more about David Hallberg

Help support the program

David Hallberg Scholarship

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By Jenny Barwise
The News and Star
January 19, 2013

Move over Billy Elliot there’s a new dancer in town

Jamie Dennison,12, has won a place at Elmhurst School for Dance 2013[Birmingham, England] – Jamie Dennison is celebrating after learning he’s danced his way into a place at one of the two most important ballet schools in Britain. The talented 12-year-old from Bothel is “still in the clouds” after being offered a full scholarship at the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.

Although his family say that he was born to dance, Jamie only started dance lessons three years ago when he was nine.

And the first time the principal of Lakeland Studio of Dance and Performing Arts, Avril Crellin, saw him perform, she knew there was something special about him and pushed him to reach his full potential.

After taking lessons for just four weeks, Jamie auditioned for the Royal Ballet Association, where he was accepted onto the programme and since then has travelled to Manchester or Newcastle on a weekly basis for lessons, as well as attending the Branthwaite dance school three times a week.

“He’s always danced around the house,” said his dad, Jon. “When Miss Avril saw him, she spotted straight away that Jamie had talent.

Last November Jamie, who hopes to become a ballet choreographer, auditioned for a place at Elmhurst – affiliated to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. After beating hundreds of other hopefuls, he found out this week that his dream was to come true.

Jon and his wife, Andrea, said they had to “pick themselves up off the floor” when they found out about their son’s success. “We are both extremely proud of Jamie and so are his grandparents. We know he’s worked hard and is passionate about dance. It is a dream come true for him. He is such a beautiful dancer and was born to dance.”

“Jamie is just a normal 12-year-old with a rare talent and we are so lucky that somebody spotted that talent – it wouldn’t have happened without Miss Avril.”

He will start his scholarship after the February half-term holidays.

Billy Elliot is a cult hit British drama film made in 2000, written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry. Set in northern England, it stars Jamie Bell as 11-year-old Billy, an aspiring dancer.

By Tim Smith
Photograph by Kim Hairston

The Baltimore Sun
December 15, 2012

As touring musical arrives in town, students relate to story

Terrell Rogers, 16, Baltimore, gets help from Meredith Rainey at Peabody Dance 2012In 2000, the British film “Billy Elliot” generated a flurry of admiration on both sides of the Atlantic. Something about this story of an 11-year-old boy, who decides to study ballet even as it makes him a major oddity in his northern England mining town, touched a nerve.

Five years later, transformed into a musical with a score by Elton John, “Billy Elliot” became a runaway hit in London’s West End. It went on to win a slew of Tony Awards, including Best Musical, after its 2008 Broadway premiere.

When the touring production of the show arrives Tuesday [December 18] in Baltimore, the audience will include boys around Billy’s age and just as enthusiastic about dancing. They’re members of the Estelle Dennis/Peabody Dance Training Program for Boys, part of the preparatory division of the Peabody Institute.

Chosen by audition and awarded free tuition, the students, ages 9 to 16, are put through a rigorous training in classical ballet. It’s the kind of training the fictional Billy embraces, resists and embraces again as he comes to terms with his gift.

The Peabody boys, who will also attend a master class with choreography staffers from the show later in the week, easily identify with the musical’s unlikely hero. They’ve all experienced, one way or another, the realization that they need to dance.

“I went to see ‘The Lion King’ two years ago, and I felt like I didn’t blink one time. I was staring at the dancers,” said Terrell Rogers, 16. “Now I just can’t stop dancing. I’ll do a turn randomly in the grocery store.”

Such a sight could be something right out of “Billy Elliot.” Billy, unenthusiastic about the boxing lessons his father has insisted on, discovers a ballet class and finds himself drawn in almost instantly, as if his feet had been waiting for such a chance.

Billy faces the expected obstacles: knee-jerk opposition from his father and brother, concerned about the boy’s masculinity (Billy does sense encouragement from the spirit of his dead mother); the challenge of affording dance lessons; and, especially, the trip to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London.

Set in the mid-1980s, the plot pits the child’s struggles against a backdrop of conflict in the town, where the miners have gone on strike. In the end, thanks to the generosity of the local ballet teacher who first spots Billy’s potential, and of the miners who decide to help out, the boy gets his chance.

Providing a chance is what the Peabody dance program is all about. The Baltimore-born Estelle Dennis started dancing at a tender age and kept at it, despite family resistance. She formed a community dance company here in 1934.

Before her death in 1996, Dennis arranged for a trust fund that would award scholarships to male dance students in Baltimore, advanced students ready to take bigger steps toward a professional career. When too few such students could be found, the fund’s trustees authorized the creation of a dance training program for boys, launched in 2009 at Peabody Prep.

“Just as we were beginning, ‘Billy Elliot’ opened on Broadway, and it was so inspiring and beautiful,” said Barbara Weisberger, the octogenarian artistic adviser for Peabody Dance and founding artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet. “We said something like ‘Think Billy Elliot’ in the release announcing the program.”

Auditions were held in several Baltimore public schools to put together the first class. About 60 turned out; two dozen or so were chosen. Each year since, there has been a good response to the auditions. Currently, about 30 boys are enrolled in the program.

“Once we took the financial factor out of it, providing the free tuition, we discovered there are boys out there,” said Timothy Rinko-Gay, one of the teachers for the scholarship program.

Those boys do not necessarily have any experience with ballet.

“I was a hip-hopper,” said 13-year-old Gordon Lander. “Someone told me that ballet was the technique for all dancing, that it would help with endurance. And it has helped me.”

Gordon looks thoroughly at home executing classic ballet steps — coupe, frappe, passe, plie, releve, sous sous (the boys learn a lot of French terms along the way).

“We are not trying to make them all princes in ‘Swan Lake,’ ” Weisberger said. “We just want them to know that whether it’s hip-hop or jazz or classical ballet, Broadway, modern dance, whatever, they can do better.”

Asked after a class how many envisioned going on to pursue a dance career, nearly all the boys raised their hands. But 12-year-old Olivier Knopp, whose older brother went through the Peabody program and is now in the America Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, did hedge his bets.

“If I had to make a choice right now, it could be ballet,” Olivier said. “But it could be soccer. Ballet helps with footwork and stuff.”

There is considerable appreciation these days for the link between dance and sports. “Great athletes are studying ballet; basketball teams take ballet classes,” Weisberger said. “Pittsburgh Ballet had Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann on its board of directors. Ballet dancing is the highest form of athletics. It’s not just physical; it’s the total aesthetic. And it’s not easy. You think everyone can do this?”

Meredith Rainey, a former soloist with Pennsylvania Ballet, is one of the teachers who put the Peabody boys through their paces, from exercises at the barre to increasingly tricky steps and leaps across the length of the floor.

He doesn’t miss much in the rectangular, mirrored dance studio — someone grimacing (“It’s going to hurt”), someone with eyes down (“You can’t look at your feet and do this”). And the teacher keeps things going at a steady clip.

There’s a point to the urgency. Rainey knows how much these students have to do if they are to excel. “I started late,” he said. “I was 15. So I had to learn fast. And I didn’t have a boys’ class. I was the only boy taking dance.”

Being outnumbered by girls in dance class is not an unusual occurrence for boys. That’s something observed by Nora Brennan when she holds auditions for the lead in “Billy Elliot.” For some boys, being chosen — four at a time rotate in the title role — means their first chance to work with peers of the same gender.

“It’s helpful for the boys to know they’re not the only one,” said Brennan, the children’s casting director for the Broadway production of “Billy Elliot,” which closed last January, and for the North American tours. “When they get in a room together, they all learn from each other.”

Nearly two dozen boys have performed the role so far in the United States and Canada. The latest are “getting their feet wet” in Austin, Texas, this weekend before the show heads to Baltimore, said supervising resident director Steven Minning. “They are fresh out of the gate, which is great,” Minning said. “That’s when they’re really hot.”

To get to that gate takes a variety of talents. “We travel the country looking for 9- to 12-year-olds who are extraordinary dancers,” Brennan said. “Usually, they are very strong in ballet with several years of training. They have to have the potential to learn new dances — tap, gymnastics, contemporary. They have to be able to sing and learn to act. And they have to learn the Geordie accent [of northern England], which sounds a bit Scottish.”

That’s still not all. To capture the essence of Billy, a performer needs to reveal something else. “I’m looking for a sense of determination and tenacity,” Brennan said. “This almost always comes from within themselves. I notice at the audition which kids give up or fall apart easily.”

Added Minning: “To access the emotional parts of the character of Billy is a challenge. Some boys tend to be older souls than others. There are a lot of life experiences in them already. They can’t articulate them, but they are there.”

One of those life experiences is likely to be dealing with lingering prejudice against boys dancing ballet. There have been periods when dancing was seen as cool for boys — Weisberger recalled increased interest after publicity surrounding the brilliant Russian celebrity-defectors Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov decades ago — but that is an exception.

“There’s still a stigma, a lot of dancing-is-for-girls stuff,” Rinko-Gay said, “even if it doesn’t go to the are-you-gay stage.”

All of that is part of the “Billy Elliot” story.

Brennan noted that when she asks boys at auditions whether they have ever had trouble at school because of their interest in dance, “pretty much all the hands go up. There are bullying issues. Sometime they tell friends they are going to soccer practice instead of dance class,” Brennan said.

Boys in the Peabody program don’t hesitate to acknowledge that they have faced some of these issues, but they shrug it off. “I’ve loved dancing since I was little,” said Seth Walters, 13. The taunting “changed when I said I was studying at Peabody.”

And the boys who are accepted into the demanding Peabody program invariably arrive with essential support. “My family is proud of me,” said 11-year-old Devonte Tasker. Nods from his colleagues reflected similar sentiments.

If the Peabody imprimatur help boys get past the old stigma, their own conviction and dedication make the biggest difference. Rinko-Gay’s assessment of the current crop of students is upbeat.

“There is good potential here,” he said. “I don’t know how many would stay in classical ballet. But I do think some of them might go on to Broadway.”

Learn more about the Peabody Program

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By Danyael Halprin
Calgary Herald
November 20, 2012

Content Warning:   Sexual orientation is dicussed

Boys at School of Alberta Ballet 2012Alberta, Canada – For the past four years Kale Lazarick, 12, has been the only boy in a group of girls in his jazz and musical theatre classes at a Calgary dance studio. So when his father heard on the radio that the School of Alberta Ballet was offering free ballet classes for boys, Lazarick jeté-d at the opportunity.

By offering free classes the Alberta Ballet was removing one hurdle for boys who were interested in trying an art marked by stigma. Lazarick was one of 40 boys, aged 8 to 11, who attended the six Saturday lessons in the spring. Half a dozen returned to register for the school’s fall program.

Lazarick was hoping to find a class in which he could share his passion for dance with other boys and with whom he could talk about common interests, like video games and dirt biking, says the Grade 7 student at Nose Creek School. Immediately recognizing his talent and dedication, the instructors invited him to join the School of Alberta Ballet’s professional division where he takes ballet three afternoons a week.

It’s been difficult over the years for schools in Canada to get boys involved in dance. “It’s still seen in Canada as something males don’t do. We’re trying to wake people up to the fact that it is an absolutely legitimate opportunity for men as much as it is for women,” says Murray Kilgour, the school’s artistic director.

Kilgour is an internationally respected dance educator, having taught at the Royal Ballet School in London, China’s National School, the National Ballet of Canada, and the Central School of Ballet in London, where he was head of male dance. One of his students was the talented and enthusiastic Yorkshire boy who inspired the film Billy Elliot.

Recognizing from an early age that dance was something that Lazarick loved, his parents have fostered his interest every step of the way. However, not all families are as open-minded and supportive; particularly fathers who fear that ballet will turn their sons gay. While in the past, some gay boys came to ballet because it was one of the few places where they could be openly gay, nowadays, because of the growing acceptance of homosexuality that has occurred over the past 10 to 15 years, they are coming out in other fields.

Ballet schools want parents to recognize that sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. “The boys who dance, they dance because they love it, despite the ridicule, despite the assumptions,” says Sean Richardson, a Vancouver-based expert specializing in the psychology of excellence, who was a consultant to the Australian Ballet Company in Melbourne for five years. “It’s a physically demanding discipline in a high pressure environment of perfection and you’d be out of there pretty quickly if you didn’t love it.”

Boys training at Alberta BalletHaving attending the Edmonton School of Ballet for six years, 17-year-old Nathan Lacombe recently joined the School of Alberta Ballet’s professional division as a student boarder. Though he played soccer and hockey growing up it was ballet that really spoke to him. “I feel you can say things more with dance than you can with words,” says Lacombe, a strong, confident dancer who stands six foot five inches with a muscular physique. “You can show emotion through dance, physicality, and you can show different shades of yourself.”

Today, in what seems like the height of bullying and cyberbullying it can be difficult for a boy to don black tights and white leather ballet shoes while his buddies are dressing in body armour for their hockey games. Lacombe says overall kids have been supportive but there were times when he was teased and called the “most interesting” nicknames.

Murray had a much worse time and his experience perhaps contradicts the impression that bullying belongs to our times alone. He recounts an incident at his Vancouver junior high school in the late 1950s when a gang came backstage after a ballet performance and beat up Murray and the other male dancers.

Alberta Ballet Boys ProgramIn casting their open net the School of Alberta Ballet was also hoping to draw in boys involved in sports. Its poster campaign featured photos of boys performing ballet interspersed with photos of boys playing hockey and soccer and explained how a child gains strength, co-ordination and agility through ballet, which are advantageous to sports performance. A soccer player and a hockey player turned up for the free classes.

Indeed, a number of athletes have taken ballet classes at some point in their careers to ameliorate their performance, such as NFL players Lynn Swann, Willie Gault, Welsh national rugby player Shane Williams and the South African national soccer team. In fact, the 11-year-old boy who came on scholarship to the Central School of Ballet in the 1990s, and was a student of Kilgour’s, ended up becoming Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand.

In fact, it is the precise point at which ballet and sports collide where there’s a greater acceptance of boys in ballet. Richardson says it was when the ballet dancers were working out in the gym alongside elite athletes that both sides started to recognize that there’s a lot of crossover in what they do. “With the understanding that ballet is a physically demanding discipline came an increased amount of respect and acceptance.”

Says Richardson: “Boys who play hockey think it’s tough and they’re bashing each other up or they’re doing pushups and sit-ups, well, dancers are probably working physically as hard or harder.”

For Lazarick and Lacombe, this is a case en pointe.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Somerset Standard
November 1, 2012

An 11-year-old Frome [Somerset, England] boy has been awarded a full scholarship to a prestigious dance school after his tutor saw his great potential. Rishi Davis, who attended Danceworks Studio, based at Frome Rugby Club, impressed his tutor Debbie Haines so much she decided to approach his parents to see if they would consider him taking his ability to the next step.

Mrs Haines said: “Rishi has been a student of Danceworks for the past four years, studying classical ballet. He has taken part in two Danceworks productions and has achieved two ballet examinations, most recently his grade two which he passed with distinction. Due to Rishi showing potential, I spoke with his parents to see if he was really interested in dance as I felt he could do well to take it further.”

Rishi successfully auditioned for Royal Ballet Junior Associate classes in 2011. He attended the classes fortnightly in Bristol, alongside his weekly classes at Danceworks, being taught by teachers from the Royal Ballet School.

Mrs Haines added: “The associate classes gave him the encouragement to audition for a full-time vocational school. He not only gained a place at Elmhurst Dance School but was awarded a full scholarship, which is amazing. Elmhurst is in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet and they have amazing facilities in Edgbaston.”

“Rishi will receive the highest standards of dance training combined with his academic education and is studying ballet, tap and jazz. He is a delightful boy with a fantastic physique and amazing potential. He has been a wonderful student at Danceworks and will be missed by everyone, we all wish him the very best.”

Rishi said he was enjoying the scholarship and the opportunity to study at such a prestigious school. He said: “Dancing makes me feel happy and I am really enjoying it. It is really fun and hard work, but I love it.”

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Rishi said: “I’d like to be a principal ballet dancer and I’d like to dance in Swan Lake.”

His parents Mary and Marcus are very proud of him. Mrs Davis said: “It’s a bit of a dream come true for him. He got into dance after we went to see The Nutcracker and we got in touch with Debbie. He is doing really well and enjoying it, we are really proud of his achievements.”

Copyright © 2012 Northcliffe Media Limited

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