Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Boys Ballet

Former ballet teacher is reunited with star pupil

By Andrew French
Oxford Mail
July 25, 2013

Ballet teacher, Sarah Doidge and James French (Photo by Denis Kennedy) 2013[Oxford, England] – Two years ago James French secured training with the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, London.

In September, the 11-year-old from Didcot will join the school full-time at White Lodge in Richmond, and will appear in The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House at Christmas. And earlier this week, James met up with his former ballet teacher Sarah Doidge, who spotted his talent when he was three.

James was encouraged to try ballet by his parents Jacqui Sporle and Paul French, landlords of the Broadways pub in Didcot.

Ms Sporle attributes her son’s success to the good start he got when he was a pupil at Our Lady’s Abingdon Junior School. It was there James received tuition from Mrs Doidge, and on earlier this week she was able to see the progress he has made when they met at the school in St John’s Road.

Ms Sporle, 53, from Didcot, said: “It was lovely for James to be able to see Mrs Doidge again. She was his ballet teacher from when he about three-and-half and he loved it and went on from there. “He was copying his sister Danielle, who is now 16 and she is at Ballet West, a school for ballet dancers in Scotland.

“Last year James got a place at the Young Dancers Academy in Shepherd’s Bush in London and he has just completed his first year of full-time ballet training.

“With the Royal Ballet he has appeared at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Prince of the Pagodas.

“In each year at the Royal Ballet School, there are only places for 12 boys and 12 girls in his year group, and more than 700 dancers auditioned twice for a place.

“I would love it if James gets the chance to become a ballet dancer full-time when he grows up, but I’m not pushing him into it – it’s what he wants as well.”

James added: “I remember when I was little I would do ballet with Mrs Doidge and she always made me laugh – it was lovely to see her again. I’m really looking forward to being in The Nutcracker.”

Mrs Doidge, from Abingdon, ran a ballet school for 30 years before she started her own business making jam about six years ago. Last year she agreed to supply top food store Fortnum & Mason with jars of plum conserve.

She said: “I taught James for about five years and I have been keeping an eye on his progress ever since. I think he has a very good chance of making it as a ballet dancer, provided he continues to work hard. The competition is tough, but physically he has all the attributes to make a good dancer.”

Copyright 2013 Newsquest

Related Articles:

Young dancers win roles at Royal Opera House

Nine-year-old dancer to perform at Covent Garden

Faversham ballet dancer lands Swan Lake role

By Claire McWethy
The Canterbury Times
July 30, 2013

Jake Inman,14,will dance in EYB's Swan Lake 2013[Kent, England] – Faversham’s answer to Billy Elliot has landed a role in a professional production of Swan Lake at the Marlowe Theatre.

Up-and-coming ballet star Jake Inman, 14, was selected in February after an audition where he was up against 200 young hopefuls. Now he is preparing for the performance of a lifetime, where he will be taking to the stage between August 23 – 24 with the English Youth Ballet (EYB). He will dance alongside EYB’s international principal artists and gain an insight into what life is like as a professional ballet dancer.

Jake who attends Canterbury Academy and is currently studying at the Dance Warehouse, said his dancing dreams began when he was just five years old. He said: “I started dancing very young. I used to get taken along to dancing with my sister and I really enjoyed looking at it so I started myself. I started tap dancing but when my parents suggested doing ballet as well I really took to it.

“I am looking forward to performing on the stage in Swan Lake and I am quite confident I can do it well.”

The young cast have begun rehearsing with the EYB’s dancers at The Canterbury Academy in an intensive ten-day schedule.

British principal ballerina, Julianne Rice Oxley said she was impressed by the talent in the young dancers.

She said: “They have great energy and attack. Working in a professional environment gives the students a unique insight into life in a ballet company. Jake is so lucky – I wish there had been something like EYB when I was training!

“I feel very privileged to be a principal with EYB as I get to work with some of the UK’s most talented young dancers. I find them incredibly inspiring!”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

Brothers are taking the world of ballet by storm

The Somerset Guardian
August 8, 2013

Brothers Elliot, 17, and Leo Horler, 11 (Photo by Kevin Bates) 2013

[Somerset, England] – Brothers Elliot and Leo Horler are dancing for joy following their individual successes in the world of ballet.

Both boys have been dancing since they were youngsters and Elliot, aged 17, is at the Hammond School, in Chester, and has just danced in a world premiere to mark the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten.

Plymouth Town was written when Britten was 17 and the ballet had never been performed until now when it was choreographed by Hammond senior classical teacher Jane Elliott. The performanceHYPERLINK  \l “” took place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Leo, a pupil at Writhlington School, has just returned from Cardiff where he had landed a major role with the English Youth Ballet in their production of Giselle. He had impressed the organisation when he took roles in their production of Sleeping Beauty in Weston-super-Mare earlier this year, and was invited to dance in Cardiff.

Leo, who trains at the Susan Hill School of Dance in Radstock, as did his brother before him, is determined to pursue a career in dance. He has been accepted on an associate programme at the Hammond School and his mum Carrie is hoping that he will succeed with a full funded place soon.

As well as training with Sue Hill, Leo also travels to Swindon where he studies with the town’s dance academy.

Janet Lewis, director of the English Youth Ballet, said Leo was a talented boy. She said: “Leo improved his ballet techniques daily during our rehearsal period and gained enormous confidence in his performance. His dramatic ability stood out in the part he played. He is a talented boy, perhaps another Billy Elliott of the future.”

Elliot is in the sixth form at Hammond and is enjoying concentrating on his musical theatre studies. He said: “It’s nice to be with people of similar interest. I am surrounded by people who are talented and enjoy doing the same things as me.”

Mrs Horler said she is proud of her sons and the success they enjoy. She said: “They both love to dance and enjoy it. We hope that Leo might get his chance at somewhere like the Hammond but that will require sponsorship.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World


By Charmaine Patricia Warrne
The Amsterdam News
August 8, 2013

Current BAE students 2013For young boys who are interested in studying ballet, here’s an opportunity that cannot be missed! Ballet Academy East (BAE), known for training young ballet dancers to become professionals, will hold auditions to offer a full-year scholarship to boys. Auditions will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 4:45 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Ballet Academy East, 1651 Third Ave. Eight, full-year tuition scholarships will be awarded.

Darla Hoover, associate artistic director of the Pre-Professional Division at BAE, says, “We are thrilled to announce the new Boys’ Scholarship Program, which will give talented boys, who may not otherwise have had the opportunity, the chance to be part of BAE’s Pre-Professional Division.” Hoover continues, “BAE has achieved consistent success in producing technically strong, expressive dancers with a unique syllabus, an extraordinary faculty and incredible performance opportunities. BAE continues to offer students the absolute best training in a healthy and nurturing environment, and the creation of this new program allows us to include more male students.”

Some alumni include Chase Finlay, New York City Ballet, principal dancer; Ariel Rose, Miami City Ballet; Trevor Felixbrod, Alabama Ballet; Ian Bethany, Ballet Austin; Kendall Britt, Ballet Memphis; Alexander Castillo, soloist; Christopher McDaniel, Los Angeles Ballet; and Devon Carbone, Bavarian State Ballet II, among others.

Students of BAE are guided under the tutelage of faculty members that include Hoover, Charles Askegard, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Cynthia Birdwell, Olga Dvorovenko, Peter Frame, Jenna Lavin, Joseph Malbrough, Tara Mora, Francis Patrelle, Elizabeth Walker and Cheryl Yeager. The curriculum includes technique classes, pointe, partnering, variations, stretch, men’s weight training, modern and character. Performing opportunities include two annual productions: the Studio Showing in February and the Spring Performance in May. The director and founder of Ballet Academy East is Julia Dubno.

A girls’ auditions will also take place on the same day, but dancers will be separated into groups upon arrival.

To apply to attend an audition, visit, click on “Pre-Professional Division” and follow the online instructions; call 212-410-9140; or send an email to For more information, visit

© 2013 Amsterdam News

Youngster has won a place at  Elmhurst School for Dance

By Kate Stenhouse
Nottingham Post
July 16, 2013

Matteo Rollini, 8, has been accepted into the Elmhurst School for Ballet  2013

[Nottingham, England] – When dancer Lesley Rollini had three sons, she never dreamed that one day one of her off-spring would be following in her foot steps. But her son Matteo, eight, took up the hobby just over a year ago and has already proved himself to be a budding Billy Elliot – landing a place at the Royal Ballet in Birmingham.

Mrs Rollini, founder of the Lesley Rollini School of Dance in West Bridgford, said: “Matteo has only been dancing with me for just over a year; he actually started with gymnastics and then he decided that dance was what he wanted to focus on.”

She added that despite her dance background, Matteo hadn’t always shown an interest in dance. “He started when he was very little, I took him along when he was about three to my little ones class, but I could tell he wasn’t focused and he didn’t really want to do it, so I didn’t pursue it.

“It was only as he got older, seeing his brothers build up, he wanted to do the same, and he’s the type of body shape for gymnastics, and they took him straight away and there’s some dance rhythm in gymnastics and he just started to enjoy it.

“Now, he asks to come along to all my classes, even my private ones.”

Matteo received top marks in his Royal Academy of Dance exams and has now been offered a place at the Elmhurst School for Ballet, in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, one of the major UK ballet companies.

Matteo will be taking up his place in September and will be balancing it alongside school at St Edmund Campion Catholic academy, with school during the week and ballet classes at weekends.

Matteo said: “I’m used to doing both and I prefer dancing anyway.”

In May this year, the Post reported on another of Mrs Rollini’s pupils, 11-year-old William Smith, who achieved a place at the Northern Ballet Academy.

Mrs Rollini said: “This is amazing and, for me, it’s a double whammy as it’s not only a pupil it’s also my son, and only having three sons, I never thought I’d get this.”

Mrs Rollini’s school is one to watch as her other up-and-comers seem set for stardom. She said: “I’ve got a little boy who comes to classes who will have to wait to audition next year because of his age, he’s only been with me a couple of months.

“I’ve got some beautiful girls, too, I’ve already approached parents about them. One girl, she’s beautiful and she’s one of those dancers that takes your breath away. Her mummy said to me, ‘you’ve changed my daughter, she now wants to dance for a career’.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

Related Article: A remarkable young dancer has won a scholarship to the Northern Ballet Academy


Luke Spring, a tap-dance prodigy, takes the national stage

By Rebecca Ritzel
Photograph by Melanie Burford
The Washington Post
July 19, 2013

Luke Spring,10,placed third at the NYCDA competition (Melanie Burford) 2013

The future of tap dancing in America may rest on the small shoulders of a four-foot-tall, 52-pound, 10-year-old boy from Ashburn [Loudoun County, north of Washington, D.C.].

Luke Spring is a YouTube darlingwho is even more astonishing in person. Locally, he has been impressing the dance and theater community since 2010, but his fame has since rocketed to New York stages and national TV. Luke’s four-year career got another boost earlier this month, when he placed third in the Mini Division (for 7-10-year-olds) at the New York City Dance Alliance’s National Outstanding Dancer competition. Had the competition just been just tap, Luke would have won, wingtips down.

Read the Entire Story:

© 2013 The Washington Post


Teenager awarded scholarship to Performers College

By Elizabeth Mackley
The Swindon Advertiser
July 25, 2013

Joey Goodwin,17, has won a scholarship to Performers College 2013[Wiltshire, England] – A teenager is taking his next step towards realising a childhood dream after winning a scholarship to a prestigious dance school. Seventeen-year-old Joey Goodwin is celebrating after finding out a chance audition last month has won him a place at Performers College in Essex.

“You always hope something is going to come out of an audition but it was a huge surprise,” said Joey, a student at the Judith Hockaday School of Dance and Drama. Originally I wasn’t going to audition this year; at the last minute I thought I would audition just for a bit of experience. Then I found out they wanted me and then they gave me the scholarship. It was a bit of an accident really.”

Joey competed against 80 other dancers during a gruelling day of auditions including a physiotherapy assessment, classes in ballet and jazz, singing and drama as well as an interview.

Now after winning the government funded DaDa scholarship, awarded to about 30 students at the college each year and which will pay for all his school fees, Joey is preparing to start the three-year course. He will continue to develop his tap, ballet, and modern dancing skills as well as drama and singing and taking part in numerous performances.

He said: “I’m very excited, nervous, but excited, and it’s all getting a bit closer. My dream is to be on the West End in a West End show, but anything to do with theatre and performing is what I want to do.”

Joey said: “I just want to say a big thank you to Miss Hockaday, she’s been absolutely amazing and without her none of this would have happened.”

Joey who lives in Oakhurst, started dancing when he was five years old learning Latin, ballroom, and street dance. When he was 11 he took up ballet, which is now his favourite style. Ever since then he has been working his way towards his dream of becoming a professional dancer.

As well as training eight hours every day in school and carrying out his own workout at home, Joey also teaches throughout Swindon and Oxfordshire.

Judith Hockaday, principal at the dance school in Old Town, said: ”I am really pleased. He’s a nice boy too and he’s worked really hard. He’s done an amazing amount since last September. He will be a really nice teacher too.”

© Copyright 2013   Newsquest

International Ballet Classique

By William Conville
Media Patch
July 9, 2013

Alex Babayev Performing In The Nutcracker Ballet[Media, Pennsylvania, USA] – The Academy of International Ballet, official school of International Ballet Classique, is pleased to announce a special “one year” TUITION-FREE program for boys ages 7 through 18! This unique program is designed to enhance athletic skills, flexibility and strength. Participation in this special program includes opportunities to perform in our future ballet performances. All students in this special program must audition for possible acceptance. No prior dance experience is required.

Boys in this special Vaganova-based training program will build stamina, flexibility, muscle tone and strength, including balance and coordination using exercises and dance movements.

According to IBC Artistic Director Denis Gronostayskiy, “Our special one year program for boys is a beneficial activity both mentally and physically. It is a mentally demanding and a physically challenging program. Boys will do much running, jumping and sports-related physical activity in a large studio rather than on a playing field. The student will learn how to correctly hear, move and react to music under pressure, how to cooperate with others; and, most importantly, learn first hand traditional courtly manners and social etiquette. This 10-month program is based on the revered Vaganova Method of teaching ballet to boys. By offering to young men this free experience-enhancing program we provide a skill set platform to launch many different careers one of which is, of course, professional ballet”.

All classes are taught in the finest traditions of the Bolshoi, heir to almost 300 years of excellence in ballet.

There is no tuition for this program. Commitment to class attendance and rehearsal time is required and adherence to all rules and regulations. All are invited.

Open auditions will be held at the Academy of International Ballet located on the upper level of the Granite Run Mall, Suite 209 at 1067 West Baltimore Pike , Media PA 19063. Audition start time is 10:00 a.m., Saturday, August 10th. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before start time. For additional information call 484-444-2389 or 866-908-5666 or e-mail us with your questions at

Copyright ©2013 Patch.

Classical Ballet Theatre

Mr. Saburov coaches aspiring male dancers at CBT

By Renee Maxwell
Herndon Patch
July 11, 2013

[Herndon, Virginia, USA] – Classical Ballet Theatre (CBT) offers full scholarships to boys and young men interested in training under the auspices of the renowned Alisher Saburov. Mr. Saburov — a former Bolshoi Ballet star with high expectations, quiet discipline, and masculine form — has produced very successful male athletes. His young dancers typically earn high placement in the Youth America Grand Prix competition, receive scholarships for summer training with outstanding ballet companies, and portray important roles in CBT’s full-length productions. Those who choose also go on to dance professionally. For example, one alumnus currently is performing with Atlanta Ballet, and another enjoyed careers with San Francisco Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Smuin Ballet before enrolling in Stanford University.

At this time, there are openings in the scholarship program for new and current male dancers. For more information, please contact Kim Brummett at (703) 471-0750.

CBT is a not-for-profit performing arts organization dedicated to providing education, performance, and outreach opportunities in the art of dance to Northern Virginia and the surrounding communities. For more information about CBT, its classes, or upcoming performances, please visit  and Facebook.

Copyright ©2013 Patch

By Lisa Lopez
The Register Citizen
July 5, 2013

Male dancers at the Nutmeg Conservatory (Photo - Nutmeg Conservatory)

[Torrington, Connecticut, USA] – A charming 9-year-old boy walked into the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory for the very first time this past week. He was wide eyed and a little nervous as his parents explained to Mrs. Marjorie Dante, the Torrington School of Ballet registrar, that their young son was interested in taking ballet lessons.

After a nice chat, he and his family had the opportunity to peek in on a class. He saw the young men of Nutmeg’s Pre-Professional Summer Program leap across the studio with a strength and agility seemingly possessed only by superheroes. And that was it. He was ready to take the leap too.

This is where it all begins. It’s that spark of curiosity that is all too often hidden away, particularly when it comes to young boys, that is nurtured at The Nutmeg Ballet. Whether it’s a child of 9 at TSOB or of 14 at The Nutmeg Ballet, the methodical training places these ambitious children on the path to some very amazing places.

Take Nutmeg alumnus Martino Sauter, for instance. He came to The Nutmeg Ballet in 2010 and graduated from the Professional Two Year Program in 2012. Now a dancer at MOMIX, Sauter founded the social networking sensation “boys of ballet” in 2012 with the goal of placing the spotlight on male ballet dancers through breathtaking images shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (@boysofballet), and on their website, The “boysofballet” video on YouTube has already been viewed by thousands and their sites receive hundreds of submissions a day from across the globe.

Efforts to “celebrate the power and agility of the male dancer” have already garnered the attention of dancers from Boston Ballet, The Royal Ballet, ABT, NYCB, and even a nod from David Hallberg, the famous Bolshoi Ballet and ABT principal dancer. In addition, Sauter and his colleagues are busy developing a line of male dancewear and accessories including a “boys of ballet” shirt available for purchase at The Dance Shop at The Nutmeg.

“I wish someone had told me that ballet was an option when I was growing up. That it was something boys could do and that with the right training and lots of hard work, boys can be successful. Ballet is not just for girls, it’s for everyone,” elaborated Sauter who has been invited to numerous ballet schools to enlighten and motivate young boys interested in pursuing ballet.

So, why should boys consider training in classical ballet? Ballet training develops agility, creative thinking, discipline, and a work ethic that translates into success in any field of study. And if that weren’t enough, more and more athletic training programs are turning to ballet to increase coordination, flexibility, strength, precision, control and stamina. Numerous professional athletes credit their athletic success to ballet training and considering the benefits to range of motion, speed, and balance, this isn’t surprising at all.

Many Nutmeg Ballet students were accomplished athletes who traded it all for the discipline of ballet. Ben Youngstone of Richmond, Virginia, was a talented baseball player; Thel Moore of Baltimore, Maryland, was once an accomplished track star; and Matanya Solomon of Fairmont, West Virginia, was a competitive swimmer, for example.

This fall, Torrington School of Ballet will introduce a new boys-only ballet class taught by Nutmeg’s Ballet Master, Tim Melady, targeted to boys ages 8 and up. “As in other sports, a dedicated practice of ballet builds strength, coordination and confidence. Balletic exercise tones muscles and improves physical intelligences while studying among peers will foster camaraderie and a friendly competitive spirit,” Melady said.

“There’s athleticism to ballet that is often underappreciated. It takes a lot of disciplined training to execute those superhuman jumps and breakneck turns while still making it look easy.”

And if that’s not enough to convince you that ballet is for tough guys, remember that even Batman does ballet. Christian Bale, the actor who plays the strapping superhero, studied classical ballet as a young boy. And just look where he ended up.

For information regarding the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and Torrington School of Ballet, please visit or call 860-482-4413 extension 301. Registration is held every Thursday from 4-6 and Saturday 10-12 throughout the summer at Nutmeg Ballet, 58 Main Street or at the Nutmeg Dance Shop, 61 Main Street.

© Copyright 2013 Register Citizen

TV shows inspiring boys to take up dance classes

Richmond News
June 21, 2013

Tanner March gets some posture pointers from Urban Dance’s artistic director Wendy Lee Riley (Photograph by John Correa) 2013

[Richmond, British Columbia, Canada] – They may have been split a decade apart, but their first ever dance instructor can immediately draw comparisons between Graham Kaplan and Tanner March.

Wendy Lee Riley recognizes the common bond between Kaplan and March – they had a fire in their eyes and a spring in their step in the early days of gracing the floor of one of her ballet classes.

Riley recalls with ease her first encounters with Kaplan as, 10 years ago, having more than one or two boys in her many dance classes was an exception to the rule. “We had a couple of boys, but not many in ballet,” said the Urban Dance Company’s artistic director.

“But since all those TV shows about dancing, boys are more open-minded about it. (Graham) was always very eager and definitely had a lot of talent, starting off in hip-hop; but it didn’t take much to push him into tap and then jazz and then ballet, when he realized how important it was.

“And I see the same thing happening with Tanner. I sat down with his parents and said to them, ‘if this is your son’s path, then ballet has all the technical foundation he will need.'”

Read more:

© Copyright (c) Richmond News

Related Article: Tanner,10, lightly treads beaten path into ballet

Cuba’s amazing dancing identical triplets, aged 13

BBC News Magazine
June 27, 2013

Identical triplets Marcos, Cesar and Angel Ramirez Castellanos stand at the barre at the start of ballet class at the National School of Ballet in Havana, Cuba 2013

Angel, Cesar and Marcos Ramirez Castellano have already defied the odds by their very existence, as they are a rare set of identical triplets.

But the three 13-year-olds are extraordinary in another way – they are all top young ballet dancers who made it into the elite feeder school for Cuba’s prestigious National Ballet.

Their teachers say that all three of them have the talent to forge successful careers in ballet, following in the footsteps of Cuban dance stars like Carlos Acosta.

Sarah Rainsford went to meet the triplets during one of their hectic days at school.


Related Articles:

Triplets a sensation at Cuba’s National School of Ballet

To Dance Like A Man: Triplets In Havana

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.

Australian Ballet School dancers Paloma Hendry-Hodsdon, Hamish Jones, Bianca Juelg and Ethan Slocomb will perform in Swan Lake (Picture by David Caird) 2013

Signature moment for young Swan Lake dancers

By Sally Bennett
The Herald Sun
June 20, 2013

They may still be in primary school, but these young dancers are old hands at performing in the big league. The Australian Ballet School students have been cast in Swan Lake, opening at the State Theatre on Friday night.

Ballet master Tristan Message said most of the eight children in the production had already performed in professional ballets, just as he did as a boy. “The first time Graeme Murphy created The Nutcracker back in 1992, I was one of the children in that production,” he said.

“That was informative for me and helped me decide that ballet was what I wanted to do for a career. There’s a huge amount of excitement that goes with being in an enormous theatre and being around world-class dancers.”

The choreography is not difficult for the children to master. The greater challenge is getting them to understand the story and produce the appropriate dramatic response. They will play the children of characters in Swan Lake and be involved in several full rehearsals before opening night.

“The dancers are good at supporting and helping the children. It’s a rich and vivid environment and it’s great opportunity for them,” Message said.

“Being backstage with us is not the same as being backstage at a small ballet school. The sets are enormous, the costumes are quite ornate and that can be as inspiring and exciting for them as working with the dancers.”

Swan Lake runs until July 1.

Copyright 2013 News Limited


10 Year-Old Balances School, Sports And Dance

By Alicia McGarry
Northland Lifestyle
Photograph by Deanna Johnson
June 10, 2013

Aidan Colligan, 10, dances balletand plays sports 2013

[Kansas City, Missouri, USA] – When Aidan Colligan told his friend he had signed up for ballet class, the boy immediately took the news to the top of a school chair in taunting proclamation, “Hey everybody, Aidan takes ballet.” It might have been an embarrassing experience for Aidan, then 6, if it weren’t for one thing: No one cared. “So I guess some people think ballet is for girls only, but others don’t,” says Aidan, now 10. And it’s easy to see why. Not only has his gift catapulted him into some of the most coveted roles in ballet, his talents have served to imbue him with a level of confidence his mom, Jenifer, attributes to honing in early on Aidan’s natural abilities.

“Aidan was pretty shy when he was younger, and even as recently as two or three years ago was very, very, reluctant to try anything new,” Jenifer says. “But I had also seen that he was musically motivated, so thought it would be good for him to have a creative outlet.” That ballet and having a creative outlet would prove beneficial for Aidan proved to be an extraordinarily profound understatement. By his second year with the Kansas City Ballet, Aidan had landed a role in the party scene in their world-class production of The Nutcracker at The Kauffman Center.

In his third year with the Kansas City Ballet, Aidan was bestowed the high honor of playing the role of Clara’s brother Fritz in The Nutcracker. The prestige of playing Fritz as a third-year dancer wasn’t what was most important—for Aidan, it was:

“Aidan was pretty shy when he was younger, and even as recently boys in trouble and generally leading them into mischief,” he says. as two or three years ago was very, very, reluctant to try anything In fact, Aidan says his first experience performing in the cast of The Nutcracker is his most memorable life experience to date. The bolster in self-confidence and discipline Aidan has gained from ballet has extended much farther than the stage.

“Aidan is stronger and more physically toned, more coordinated, more flexible and more focused and disciplined as a result of having taken ballet,” Jenifer says.

Starting out as a relatively introverted kid reticent to try anything new, Aidan now also runs track in the spring and plays basketball in winter—both of which, he says, often conflict with ballet. No big deal, he says.

“If I miss ballet, I take a make-up class if that works, but if not—which is usually the case—I try to pay extra attention next class.”

When then, does Aidan squeeze in academics? Judging from his 97.5 cumulative percentage at St. Therese North, Aidan is handily juggling his schedule with gusto, and with the kind of confidence that can only come from the faith he has in the power of his own discipline and focus.

“I think Aidan’s experiences performing have shown him that if you just focus on doing your own part the right way, you can be a part of something really big,” Jenifer says.

Aidan agrees. “Ballet has given me the chance to feel like I’m really a part of something, instead of just watching ––and wondering.” His mom adds to that thought. “And giving him a little appreciation for the performing arts doesn’t hurt either,” Jenifer says.

%d bloggers like this: