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Tag Archives: Boys Ballet

Bruce DeMara
Photograph by Tara Walton
The Toronto Star
February 25, 2011



Since becoming one of four actors cast in the lead role of Billy Elliot: The Musical, Myles Erlick’s young life is divided in three different kinds of days.

There’s the days he performs in front of a live audience at the Canon Theatre, there’s the days he understudies — waiting in the wings in case something happens — and there’s Mondays, his only day off a week.

It’s fair to say that for Myles, the days he likes the best are the days he’s onstage. “It’s a day that feels a bit different than an ordinary day, of course. I always get nervous, like, in a good way. I always feel that if you get nervous, it’s because you care,” Myles said.


Video: The Toronto Billys


The 12-year-old, the youngest of the four alternating Billys, has already had a taste of performing live in Chicago, along with fellow Billy, Marcus Pei, for a handful of shows from mid-October to the end of November during the musical’s North American premiere.

But Myles has been in training for the role pretty much all of his life, honing his “triple threat” skills — acting, dancing and singing — from a very early age. “My mom owns a performing arts studio in Burlington. She took me to work with her one day when I was about 2½ years old and I went into this big studio with her and I saw all these older kids dancing . . . and I just joined in and started doing all this dancing and stuff. I’ve loved it ever since,” Myles said.

With the musical’s Toronto run preparing to go from previews to public performances on March 1, the pressure is on. But proud mom Franci Nicassio isn’t concerned. “He (Myles) knows what he wants out of life and he’s very focused. He’s a very passionate little guy,” Nicassio said.

A performance day, like most others, usually begins at 9 a.m. with a 75-minute session at the National Ballet School of Canada on Jarvis St. — where Myles has been enrolled for more than a year.

Instructor Ashleigh Powell said the training “requires a lot of work to bring (the boys) to where they can make such wonderful things look easy. “They’re very dedicated students . . . they’re really committed not only to getting the spectacular jumps and turns correct but also working on their technique and every aspect of their dancing,” Powell said.

Tutoring — which is usually conducted alongside other people in the cast — usually fills out the mornings and sometimes continues in the afternoon. It started out at six days a week but has been reduced to five as the performance dates have drawn closer.

After lunch, training can include either an “acro” class — as in acrobatics (handstands, standing backsprings, etc.) — “core cardio” class to build stamina or a 25-minute session of almost non-stop skipping to prepare for a number in which Billy skips and tap-dances, accompanied by older characters Mr. Braithwaite and Mrs. Wilkinson.

Ruthy Dunec, Myles’ acrobatics instructor, described him as a natural. “In acro, there’s a lot of control the same way you would need in ballet. But there’s a lot of power involved, a lot of dynamic activity and a lot of anticipation in the movements,” Dunec said, adding that the young actors are performing on a hard stage, not — as in gymnastics — on a padded or “sprung” floor.

“Down time” is between 4:30 and 6 p.m., the time to eat and relax at the rented apartment Myles and his mother share. That’s also the time to get focused and into character, he said. “If you go out of character, you just kind of zone out and it’s not good at all,” Myles cautioned.

At 6 p.m., Myles does a physical warmup with the entire cast for half-hour, followed by a vocal warm-up. He also conducts his “safeties,” a series of checks to ensure his various moves and jumps are performed without risk. A second “safety” is performed before the second act, this one involving a harness.

Just to throw a twist into everyone’s schedules, the actors also perform matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

An understudy day is very similar to a performance day, right down to the morning ballet class, tutoring and a combination of either “acro,” skipping class or “core cardio.” Even as the understudy, Myles takes part in the cast warm-up and the vocal warm-up. He then retires to his dressing room to wait in case — God forbid — something should happen to one of his three co-stars.

Mondays, the day of the week most dreaded by most schoolboys of a similar age, is the only day Myles can take a welcome breather. “I sleep in for a long time and get up and have a nice big breakfast with my mom. I always have a nice big breakfast,” said Myles, whose spare frame belies the statement. “Then I play video games and relax and do everything that a normal boy would do, hang out with my friends.”

Myles insists that competition among the four leads — himself, Pei, J.P. Viernes and Cesar Corrales — is more friendly than fierce. “We’re all very awesome friends, very good friends. We might have a pirouette competition for fun and stuff but . . . we don’t have anything competitive against each other,” Myles explained. “Even though it’s the same lines and the same script and the same intention, we all do it a bit differently,” he said.

Mom Franci said her son is bearing up well: “It definitely is a demanding schedule. But he’s doing it, he’s keeping up. By the end of the night, he needs his rest. But he’s . . . the one that’s up in the morning getting things organized and ready to go for the day.”

Myles, after all, sees Billy as excellent training for his future.

Billy Elliot: The Musical is about a boy who wants to become a ballet dancer. And that’s exactly like me.”

© Copyright Toronto Star 2011


Additional Articles about Myles Erlick


The Globe and Mail
February 21, 2011


In a large studio space filled with production assistants, stage managers, dance instructors, squawking walkie-talkies (and, yes, parents), the four boys who play Billy Elliot in the Toronto production of the hit musical are taking a well deserved break to eat a lunch of turkey sandwiches and potato chips.

A typical day for these young men – J.P. Viernes, 14; Myles Erlick, 12; Cesar Corrales, 14; and Marcus Pei, 12 – begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., six days a week. The hours are spent in ballet class, tap class, classes to polish their acro (a style of dance that mixes classical and acrobatic elements), rehearsing scenes and, of course, homework.

It’s no wonder then that they all agree keeping up their energy is the most difficult part of preparing for the show. “The hardest thing is the stamina,” Corrales says.

Playing the role of Billy Elliot is a monumental challenge. While the boys have years of ballet experience – they beat out 1,500 other wannabes for performances in Toronto as well as Chicago – most have had to learn to sing, to act and to become proficient tap dancers.

“They’re extraordinary kids. They have to be able to absolutely stay focused, stay fit, stay mentally healthy, act, dance, sing and carry a big show on their shoulders,” says producer David Furnish. “It’s a tough job. And that’s a challenge. It’s not like you can go out and find these kids and they just exist. They don’t. You have to bring them up a big learning curve.”

After Pei passed his first two auditions, he was put in tap classes to help round out his skills for the show. Corrales also had to polish his tap, although he almost didn’t try out for the role.

His mother had seen a notice for the auditions and suggested he try out. “I was like, ‘I don’t know mom, they do everything and I only know ballet and acro.’” But he decided to go ahead after his mom suggested he go just for the experience, even if the demands of the part seemed daunting.

All the boys recognize that Billy is the role of a lifetime.

“I’ve always wanted to become a professional ballet dancer. I always want to perform for people,” Erlick says.

Viernes, who started to take ballet when he was seven years old after watching his older sister’s recitals, auditioned for Billy for the chance to try something new. “I like the role of Billy Elliot because, first of all, it’s a very good role to dance. It’s also kind of a new role for me because I haven’t had much acting experience,” he says.

Stephen Daldry, who directed the film (made in 2000) as well as the musical, says playing Billy in the stage version is a much, much more difficult task than the movie. “Some kids have been in training for it for over a year,” he says.

So what makes a Billy? A certain amount of charm is required, as is dance ability, of course. But there is one thing above all that makes a kid right for the part, Daldry says. “At the end of the day, what you’re looking for more than anything else is determination and tenacity,” he says.

Thankfully, he adds, the show has been able to draw on students at the National Ballet of Canada, many of whom have performed in the show over the years in its various incarnations. “The Canadian National Ballet School has been an enormous resource for us,” Daldry says.

Three of the Billys in the Toronto production – Pei, Erlick and Corrales – are students at the school.

“Canada has a great bed of talent,” Furnish says.

After the musical’s initial success in London in 2005, Furnish hoped it would next make its way to Toronto (his home town). But the play wound up in Sydney for “logistical reasons.”

Now that it is here, the Billys who go to school in the city have that much more energy for the show. “I’m excited to be in Toronto because now my friends will be able to see the show,” Erlick says.

For now, though, lunch is over and it’s time for the boys to head back to their afternoon classes.  They don’t mind. Their hard work is part of what this show’s about.

“I think we all need to believe in hope,” says Furnish, “that if we have dreams and if we have ambitions and if we have skills and talents – that if you really put your heart into something and you work at it hard enough – that you can make your dreams come true.”


© Copyright 2011 The Globe and Mail Inc

BBC News
February 22. 2011

Three ballet dancing brothers from Liverpool feature in a new children’s BBC series. 


 Jamie, 14, and his brothers Michael, 11, and Adam, nine, have overcome taunts from bullies to train to become dancers.

Jamie is currently studying away from home at ballet school and his younger brothers are facing important auditions that could change their lives.

They star in the CBBC programme My Life, which looks at the lives of extraordinary children in the UK.

Jamie, the eldest of the brothers from the city’s Norris Green, is a boarder at the Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham.

He told BBC Radio Merseyside how his mother wanted him to take up a hobby to keep him out of trouble at school. “I was in and out of the headmaster’s office and my mum said ‘right, you’ve got to do something to get you out of trouble’.

“So I started doing kick boxing, but didn’t really like it. Then I did football but I got put in goal and got bored. Then I tried an after school dance club. It wasn’t just ballet I was going for, it was general dance, but I gave ballet a go and I just loved it and I’ve been going ever since.”

Jamie says learning ballet was not the easiest choice and he was mocked by other people his age. “When I first started I got quite a bit of stick. Lads going ‘ballet boy, ballet boy’ and it does get to you and upset you, but you’ve just got to get on with it.

“I know when I do the ballet I absolutely love it and so I forget about all the bullies. If they went to one ballet class they wouldn’t know what hit them because you have to be so strong.”

Now his two younger brothers are following in his footsteps. Michael hopes to win a place in ballet school this summer and Adam is auditioning for a role in a professional theatre production.

They began dancing after seeing his success. “They were waiting outside for me all the time and they just got bored and then started joining classes as well.”

“When I was doing the TV programme I thought if I get one boy that is dancing to go ‘hang on a minute, if he’s done that and got through all the bullying then I might give it a go’ I’d be really pleased with myself.”

Jamie is approaching the end of his first year at ballet school and says balancing dance sessions and normal school lessons has been tough. “The days are challenging. As soon as you walk into the building it’s overwhelming, with all the studios and everything.”I have dance lessons and academics from 8.30 to 6pm and then dancing again from 7.00 to 8.30pm.

“It is so much more than jumping around with your arms in the air. I love the thrill of the challenge. I love the energy you have to put into it.”

Watch the brothers on the CBBC programme CBBC My Life: The Ballet Boys


© 2011 BBC

CBC News
February 19, 2011


Watch the video


The four boys sharing the lead in the musical Billy Elliot in Toronto share as much in common with each other as they do with the character they play.

Cesar Corralles, Myles Erlick, Marcus Pei and J.P. Viernes are taking turns performing the lead role in the production based on the hit movie about an English boy from a mining town whose love of ballet gets him in conflict with his macho environment.

The four pint-sized pros beat out thousands of would-be-Billys to get starring roles in the musical that has been called a “global theatrical phenomenon,” taking in over $20 million in its Broadway incarnation alone.

But before winning the role, they all shared common challenges as young boys — years of being teased for their love of ballet — just like the character they play. “When I was a bit younger at school my friends would sometimes make fun of me, like ballerina boy and twinkle toes,” recalls Erlick.

Corralles recalls similar taunts.”Some other people even told me, ‘Come on, that’s for gay people.’ I was like, ‘No guys, come on!’ It was a really hard experience,” he said.


High-energy thrills required


And like the character they play, each of the boys also had their Mrs. Wilkinson, the supportive teacher who nurtures Billy Elliot’s passion for ballet.

For three of the boys that teacher was “Mrs. Bowes,” or Deborah Bowes, who has been teaching for almost 40 years at the National Ballet School in Toronto. During those years Bowes has taught hundreds of boys, including three of the four young stars of Billy Elliot, and in that time, she has learned a few lessons of her own about keeping young boys interested in ballet.

Bowes said when it comes to ballet, you have to teach boys differently than girls. That means making sure that boys get the high-energy thrills that their developing masculinity needs. “I don’t want to sound like a cliché, but if you’re doing exercise on which you’re focusing on the very detailed part of their training, you want to make next one that is going to travel across the floor at top speed, where they are using their larger muscles and having that sense of adventure and risk they need,” she says.

But how the boys of Billy Elliot fare in making the big leap beyond the supportive atmosphere of their ballet schools to the scrutiny of the stage also depends on the support they receive from home.

Myles Erlick’s family, based in Burlington, Ont., now spends most of their time in Toronto, shuttling Myles between performances and tutoring sessions. “It’s not a sacrifice, it’s a lifestyle choice,” his mother Franci Nicassio told the CBC.

But these days, those family compromises, hours of practice and even the teasing seem to the last thing on the minds of the four young stars.

Now, it’s their time to show Canadian audiences that real boys do dance ballet.


© CBC 2011

By John Fleming, Times Performing Arts Critic
St. Petersburg Times
Photograph from the Patel Conservatory  
February 16, 2011


Ethan Fuller got his big break on Interstate 4. “They called us when we were driving home from Tampa to Indialantic on I-4,” says Camille Fuller, mother of Ethan, 12.

The phone call they got in the car a few weeks ago was that Ethan had been cast to play the leading role in Billy Elliot on tour. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” his mom says.

Ethan is now in New York, where he is undergoing the intensive training needed to play Billy, probably the biggest part for a child actor in musical theater since Annie. The actor is onstage for virtually the entire three-hour show.

“It’s definitely hard, because you have to do everything,” Ethan says. “You have to do ballet, tap, acro (acrobatics), sing, act, and you have to look like you’re not tired at all. And I have to pick up a British accent.”

The role of Billy is so demanding that four young actors rotate in performances on the national tour, now playing at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. The musical, with a score by Elton John, is about a boy in an English coal mining community who has to overcome his working-class family’s objections to follow his dream of being a ballet dancer.

Dance runs in the Fuller family. Ethan’s older brother, Collin, 17, is a student at the School of American Ballet in New York.

Both young Fullers received ballet training in Florida from Peter Stark, dance chair of the Patel Conservatory, part of the Straz Center. Stark encouraged Ethan to audition for the Broadway job. He doesn’t think it will hurt him if he ultimately decides to be a ballet dancer.

“Ethan is a hybrid dancer,” Stark says. “He has been studying ballet, but also contemporary dance, so he’s sort of a ballet-jazz kid. Ethan loves ballet, and he is really good at it, and I think he can transition into a Broadway show and then back into ballet if he wants. If you have the right attitude, you can take your year or two or three in this project and enjoy it, and then get back to what you want to do.”

Ethan, who is 5 feet 4 and weighs 90 pounds, will probably join the Billy Elliot tour in a couple of months.


© 2011 · All Rights Reserved · St. Petersburg Times ·

By Kwon Mee-yoo
Photograph by Shim Hyun-chul
The Korea Times
February 14, 2011


“And then I feel a change like a fire deep inside,” a boy started singing as four others joined in. “Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide. And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird.”

These boys — Kim Se-yong, 13; Lee Ji-myeong, 13; Jung Jin-ho, 12; Park Jun-hyeong, 11; and Lim Sun-u, 11 — alternate the role of Billy Elliot in the Korean production of the musical “Billy Elliot,” currently at LG Art Center in southern Seoul since August 2010.

The part they sang was from “Electricity,” a song Billy sings after auditioning for the Royal Ballet School, expressing what he feels like when dancing.

The five boys gathered for an interview with The Korea Times at Billy School last week. They chattered like birds, but when talking about their performances, their eyes twinkled earnestly with a professional edge.

They all started ballet at different points. Kim began when he was around 4, as he took dance sports, and Lim learned to correct his posture but soon became interested in its charm despite his friends’ teasing. Park fell in love with ballet when he watched the movie “Billy Elliot.” He was the first one to apply for an audition for the Korean role.
Jung started tap dancing as a hobby influenced by his mother who liked classic films such as “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952).

Unlike the other boys, Lee was a child musical actor before becoming Billy. He played young Simba in the 2006 Korean production of “The Lion King” and the Young Prince in the homegrown musical “Last Empress” in 2007 and 2008. “The response of the audiences thrilled me,” Lee said.

The Korean production of “Billy Elliot” is the first non-English rendition of the award-winning show, composed by Sir Elton John, written by Lee Hall, choreographed by Peter Darling and directed by Stephen Daldry.

After passing the audition in February 2009, the boys have gone through endless training to be on stage as an 11-year-old boy from a mining town in northern England who develops an interest in ballet.

Since this musical requires acting, singing, ballet, tap, acrobatic movement and even modern dance, the training was hard for some of the 10-year-old boys.

For the boys with a background in ballet like Kim, Park and Lim, acrobatics and acting were a big challenge. “Acrobatics was the most difficult area for me. I don’t have enough strength and I couldn’t do the tumbling as easily as other Billys,” Lim said. “I still feel like I am a flabby ‘squid’ in the powerful choreography of ‘Angry Dance.’”

Park said acting was the hardest part. “At first, I wasn’t confident about my acting and got embarrassed,” he said.

Lee started dancing from scratch. “I hadn’t learned any dance before auditioning for Billy and everything was new to me. Moreover, my physical condition was not suitable for ballet. For instance, I could not do a turnout, a basic posture of ballet, due to my hip joint,” Lee said. He thanked the other boys for helping him while practicing with him.

Now they all stand as the Billys of the Korean production, reaching its finish line on Feb. 27. Their dazzling efforts have been appreciated by more than 180,000 people who came to see the show and praised the performances.


Growing up on stage

The biggest hardship of the eight-month-long production came in late November. Lee strained his ankle ligaments during a show and Lim suffered from exhaustion. Kim and Jung had to take to the stage a combined eight times a week for nearly two weeks, which was not easy at their age, having to lead the three-hour show.

“Other than my injury, I felt responsible that Kim and Jung were on stage instead of me. I cried backstage when the other Billys were performing,” Lee said.

However, the boys knew how to turn crisis into opportunity. “All the bad things came at once and we were in a tough situation. However, I was happy to perform on stage, though physically tired. As I became Billy four times a week, I felt more natural in acting,” Jung said. “We thought we had to do better as we were performing instead of Lee and Lim,” Kim added.

Lee spoke beyond his years when he recollected the hard times. “Before the injury, I was obsessed with the success of ballet movements, such as turns. When I turned well, I felt good,” the boy said. “However, now I think that a turn is a tree and the three-hour performance is the forest. The forest should not be ruined by just one tree and I want to tend the whole forest.”

Park joined the cast later in January. He alone practiced at the training center for months, while the other boys were in the spotlight. Despite the late debut, Park gave stunning performances, combining the charms of elegant ballet and powerful acrobatics. “My first performance was electrifying,” Park said. “When I shouted ‘Finish!’ at the end of the show, it was totally different from rehearsals, performing in front of the audience.”

The boys have grown up both externally and internally during the performances. “I have grown taller and my voice has started to crack,” Kim said. “But I became more stable within myself. At first, I was nervous under the pressure of performing well, but now I am much more relieved and enjoy being Billy.”

Lim had competed in several local and international ballet competitions, and won a gold medal at the 2010 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) finals. “I always got butterflies inside my stomach before dancing at competitions. I had to win,” Lim said. “However, when playing Billy, I can add impromptu lines in scenes such as ‘Expressing Yourself’ and I feel more relaxed. The stage is now my friend.”

Kim, a gold medalist at the 2009 YAGP finals, added that playing Billy taught him how to enjoy being on stage, rather than competing.

Jung, the smallest of the boys, said he has seen no big outward changes. However, he seemed taller than anyone on the inside. “In my first performance, I thought of what Billy would think about before acting each scene. However, as I played the part more and more, I got used to the show and forgot how I felt when I first began,” Jung said. “For instance, at the breakfast scene, I really thought of how happy Billy was to see his mom at first. I want to finish the show as if I am still new to this.”


Bright future

“It is sad that I am not Jin-ho Billy anymore, but just Jin-ho after Feb. 27,” Jung said. “I would want to play Billy forever if I didn’t get older.”

Kim emphasized that Billy is a once-in-a-lifetime role. “I can play other roles when I became a ballerino, but I can’t play Billy again,” he said. The talented Kim also has his sights on a musical career. “I will practice acting and singing in addition to ballet. I might be a musical actor. Who knows?”

“We promised to act in the musical ‘Cats’ together when we grow up,” Lee interrupted. “There are ballet cats and tap cats. I want the role of Rum Tum Tugger, the rebel.”

Park and Lim are devoted to ballet. “I want to play all kinds of roles for a male ballet dancer — Basilio from ‘Don Quixote,’ Prince Siegfried from ‘Swan Lake,’ Albrect from ‘Giselle’ and more,” Lim said. Park said he wants to be a ballerino like Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Jung’s dream is not on the stage. He wants to be a doctor of economics. “I will continue tap and dance as a hobby,” he said. He wants to be an economics specialist, interested in philanthropic works.

Still, Jung showed an infinite affection for the show. “I heard that the U.K. Billys all returned on stage to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the show. I hope we can come back sometime later and perform scenes like ‘Electricity’ or ‘Expressing Yourself,’ all together,” the boy said.

Copyright 2011 The Korea Times

Related Article: First Korean Billy Elliots Are Finally Unveiled


By  Courtney Cairns Pastor  
The Tampa Tribune
Photograph by Andy Jones
February 10, 2011


TAMPA – Peter Stark stalked up and down his line of charges, barking out orders as they sped through leg and arm exercises, splits, pushups and crunches. Seven boys maintained stone faces. No one spoke unless spoken to.

At the end of the half-hour class, only flushed cheeks and dots of sweat betrayed how hard they had worked – doing ballet. “Listen,” Stark said, “if you want to do something easy, try football. This is not for wimps.”

It’s just the tone Stark wants to set in his Ballet for Boys class, offered at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The class is an intense workout, combining strength training and cardiovascular exercise with ballet’s precision. It feels more like an athletic event than dance class, which is critical for appealing to boys and countering the stereotype that ballet is for girls.”You can get them over the hump of being interested in ballet,” said Stark, chairman of Patel’s dance department. “It’s a carrot.”

The musical “Billy Elliot,” which is on stage at the Straz Center this month, won a Tony award for its story spotlighting boys dancing ballet, but men are still the exception in the profession. Girls commonly outnumber boys 60 to 1 at auditions, Stark said. Of the 260 dancers enrolled in Patel’s Youth Ballet and Next Generation Ballet programs, 18 are boys.

The imbalance puts a strain on ballet companies that have to draw from a limited pool of male dancers. It also can be an advantage for men: A talented male dancer who works hard has a better chance at success than a ballerina, who faces more competition.

But ballet can be a hard sell for parents more apt to pursue Little League, soccer or martial arts for their sons. “People think ballet is girly,” said fifth-grader Alex Correa, who got teased when he first started ballet. Now he attends eight ballet classes at Patel every week. “It doesn’t matter. It’s so much fun.”

By creating ballet classes exclusively for boys, Stark hopes to give them more opportunities and change the perception that dance is feminine. That’s why he keeps his boys’ lessons fast and physical.

Boys and girls differ developmentally, Stark said. Girls at a young age can stand in lines and listen intently; boys respond better to nonstop action. Stark moves them swiftly from one exercise to another, breaking up the strength-building with repetitions where they race diagonally across the room to practice leaps.

Gabriel Mannheimer, a Northwest Elementary fifth-grader in Stark’s class, said his friends who don’t dance have no idea how hard he works. “They think life is easy for me,” the 10-year-old said. He has played football and finds his ballet classes much more difficult.

Stark’s class is preparing boys physically for the physical rigors of the profession. Men’s ballet has become increasingly more athletic since the 1970s, said Stark, who danced leading roles with the New York City, Washington and Boston ballets.

But the classes don’t have to lead to careers. What the boys learn will benefit them even if they don’t pursue ballet, said Dr. Denise Edwards, a pediatrics professor and director of the Healthy Weight Clinic at the University of South Florida. Ballet offers the cardiovascular benefits of other sports but also emphasizes flexibility, form and balance.

“Very few athletes have all of that,” she said.

Boys tend to work on their flexibility less as they get older, and ballet allows them to improve in that area, Edwards said. Ballet also develops core muscles and keeps backs strong.

Those types of benefits are what have drawn professional athletes to ballet historically. Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann, for example, has said he credits his ballet and other dance classes with helping him develop body control, balance and a sense of timing that he could apply to football.

Alex, 11, found that his ballet practice helped him kick higher than other boys at taekwondo. He said ballet is different from other dances and sports he has tried because he has to concentrate on so much at once – he needs to remember his routines and also make sure his toes point out, his arms curve correctly and his legs turn the right way.

“It’s really hard,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice.”

Alex started ballet at age 9 after enrolling in a sampler class at Patel that exposed him to several types of dance. He thought he might like hip hop, but he loved ballet’s discipline.

“He just gravitated to the ballet,” said his mother, Tammy Correa. “Of all the things – I was really surprised.”

She thought it was a phase and he would plunge into something else soon. She worried about teasing, and he almost quit when kids made fun of him in fourth grade.

Correa is glad he stayed, though. Ballet has improved his confidence and maturity, and Stark is a wonderful role model, she said. At home, Alex struggles to pay attention and sit still. But in ballet class, he is focused and aware of how his body occupies the space around him.

It also expanded his appreciation of the arts. He enjoys theater more, was glued to various “Nutcracker” performances on TV during the holidays and knows many classical music pieces.

“It was challenging, so he persevered,” Correa said. “It’s really great to see somethng he’s so passionate about.”

©2011 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC


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Interview by Gemma Wilson
Photograph by Jenny Anderson
December 2, 2010


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

Current role: Tapping into Broadway’s

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

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

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

© 2011, Inc.


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


The Newcastle Herald
January 24, 2011



JARIEUS Wolf-Brooke has tumbled and forward-flipped his way into the Australian Ballet School. The 16-year-old dancer, who studied at the Marie Walton-Mahon Dance Academy, is also a keen gymnast.

He studied gymnastics at Glendale once a week in between dance classes and at last count could perform 10 backflips in a row. ‘‘Gymnastics requires a lot of co-ordination, fitness and strength and this has helped with my ballet,’’ Wolf-Brooke said. Activities on the trampoline, floor and bars built strength for ballet lifts.

Wolf-Brooke leaves today for the prestigious ballet school in Melbourne and is hoping to eventually be accepted into the Australian Ballet Company.

The former Glendale Steiner School student names Chinese dancer Li Cunxin as his inspiration and idol. Cunxin’s life, which progressed from poverty to becoming a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet, is recounted in his memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer, and subsequent film.

However, it was Wolf-Brooke’s sister Khadi, now 19, who first introduced him to ballet. Khadi, who is now studying dance at Queensland University, started learning ballet and her little brother would sit and watch her classes.

Jarieus commenced classical ballet at the age of nine and has learnt several other styles of dance.

He was accepted into The Australian Ballet School Interstate Junior Program at the age of 11 and has attended classes at the school in Melbourne.

This year Wolf-Brooke will move to Melbourne to study full-time. He also has plans to find a nearby gymnasium.


Copyright © 2011. Fairfax Media

Lynn News
February 4, 2011


DANCER Reece Causton is tripping the light fantastic after winning a place at a prestigious London dance school.

Reece, from Denver, has been accepted for professional dance training at one of Europe’s leading dance schools, Central School of Ballet (CSB), being chosen for his place from among 400 applications.

Nineteen-year-old Reece gained his early enthusiasm for dance by attending the Footlights Dance Centre in Lynn. He formerly studied at Springwood High School.

Reece, who has been dancing since he was 12, will now train for three years aiming for a BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Performance.

CBS is the only dance school in the UK to offer this unique qualification which focuses on ballet and classical ballet supported by contemporary dance, as well as choreography, Spanish dance, pilates, jazz dance, drama, dalcroze eurythmics, singing and contextual studies.

CSB director Sara Matthews said: “Students typically join us aged 16 after GCSE. By this stage many of them will have been dancing since primary school. “Only the most talented and dedicated students are accepted but ballet is no longer an elitist profession. “Bursaries are available to students who need financial support to complete the course.”

During his final year Reece will join the school’s touring company Ballet Central, formed from final year students.

Ballet Central celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with a nationwide tour that covered 25 venues across the UK including the Lowry in Salford Quays and the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House.

Graduates from CSB go on to join the world’s premier dance companies. Recent CSB students are currently employed The Royal Ballet, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company, English National Ballet and the Scottish Ballet.


©2010 Johnston Publishing Ltd.

Berwickshire News
February 03, 2011


When 11 year-old Daniel Clelland heard about auditions for an opportunity to take part in the English Youth Ballet performance of Coppelia in Newcastle next month he decided to go along for the experience.

Now, however, he is part of the production and will be heading back down to Newcastle for a casting, then his school half term holidays and weekends will be taken up with rehearsals for the performances at The Journal Tyne Theatre on Friday March 11 and Saturday, March 12.

“I was on and off if I was going to do the audition or not,” said Daniel.“I didn’t really mind if I got through or not but I would like to have got through.

“At the audition the teacher was at the front and she showed us all what we had to do and the founder was watching you and writing things down,” added Daniel who was surprised and delighted to have been one of the boys chosen to take part in the full length ballet.

Ballet teacher Jane Keenan told her pupils about the English Youth Ballet auditions and Daniel said he would like to do the audition just for the experience.“He was prepared that he might not get in but he was going to go because it would teach him how to put himself on the line,” said Jane.

“There were thousands of girls and only four boys at the auditions so he doesn’t think he has done such a good thing but they have got to be of the standard of English Youth Ballet because it is the ‘creme de la creme’.

“He came back from the audition completely exhausted but he was completely on a wave of excitement and joy because he had just found out he had been chosen.”

Since he first started dance classes in 2006 at Paxton Village Hall with dance teacher Gemma Gillie, Daniel has loved it, so much in fact that he also started going to ballet lessons with Jane Keenan.

Now he is one of Jane’s keenest pupils and attends ballet and jazz classes five days a week up to Royal Academy of Dance Grade 6.

“I am hoping to get a bus load of people, including my pupils, to go down to the matinee performance on Saturday, March 12,” added Jane. “It will give them a sense of just what standards are like out there in the big wide world.

“Dancing is clearly what Daniel wants to do in the future and all the girls really support him.

“There is definitely a sense of Daniel being special.”

Daniel is something of a role model in Berwick and Berwickshire for boys who are interested in dance. Unafraid to follow his heart Daniel dances because he loves it. “At school they asked me if I went to dance classes and I just said yes and that was it,” said Daniel, a pupil at Berwick Middle School.

And through sheer determination, enthusiasm and hard work Daniel now has the chance of a lifetime, to find out just what life would be like as a professional dancer.

Founded in 1998, English Youth Ballet is unique in that it presents full-length classical ballets in regional theatres across England, Scotland and Wales, giving young dancers outside London aged 8-18 years the opportunity to perform in a professional setting. The young dancers join professional dancers for each production which is complete with costumes, sets, lighting and stage management.

Founder and director Janet Lewis brings enormous energy, drive, enthusiasm and unique creative flair to inspire and lead young dancers to fulfil their potential and to provide them with a unique opportunity to experience life in a professional ballet company.

Now in its 12th year English Youth Ballet is so successful that hundreds of young dancers audition annually for the few places available.

It is an insight into the world of a professional ballet company – from acceptance at the audition, to classes, challenging choreography, tough rehearsals and enjoyable performances in the theatre, which mirrors exactly what a dancer in a professional company experiences.

“The audition is designed to be an experience in itself and we like parents to watch when the audition venue and space allows this,” said a company spokesperson.

“EYB is about performance and this starts with the audition when we look for young dancers who love their dancing and who would benefit from classes, rehearsals and participating in EYB ballet performances.”


©2010 Johnston Publishing Ltd.

By Katy Islip
The Echo
January 31, 2011


A dancer is toasting success after winning a place at a prestigious dance school.

Tom Broderick, 17, is starting a three-year degree in Professional Dance and Performance at the Central School of Ballet, in London.

The youngster, of Danesleigh Gardens, Leigh, started ballet at seven and went on to learn a range of styles before pursuing his passion full time. He said: “I’ve always known I loved dance, but I didn’t decide until last year to specialise in ballet.”

After scoring five A*s, five As and one C in his GCSEs at St Thomas More High School, Westcliff, Tom auditioned and won a place at the school, beating 400 fellow applicants.

Tom said: “I did the English Youth Ballet at the Cliffs Pavilion, and some of the principal dancers told me to start doing Royal Academy of Dance introductory classes, and then I won a place to study full time.”

Now his days are filled with dance as he works towards his degree, which will see him join the school’s own touring company during his final year. Tom said: “We start in the studio at 8.15am and do a half-hour warm up before two hours of ballet. Then we do lessons in different areas of ballet with the girls. We also do contemporary dance two or three days a week, as well as doing pilates, which helps keep us very flexible and strong.

“It’s great to be with so many other dancers. We all live together, so it’s really social.”

Although Tom now spends term-time living in London, his home with mum Tina, dad Paul, sister Kate, 20, and little brother Joe, four, is still where the heart is. He said: “It was a big leap to come away from home, but more for my family than it was for me.

“Not seeing Joe is the hardest, but my family are so supportive and it only takes an hour to come home so I can visit as much as I like.”

Once he completes his studies, Tom hopes to go on to join a professional dance troupe.

He said: “I love ballet, but I think I’m better at contemporary dance, so I would love to join a contemporary company after my time here. That would be amazing.”

School director Sara Matthews said: “Only the most talented and dedicated students are accepted but ballet is no longer an elitist profession. Bursaries are available to students who need financial support to complete the course. The course here has degree status so the fees are set for EU students at the same level as other universities.”


Copyright 2011 Newsquest Media Group

by Susan Liu
The Mt. Druitt- St. Marys Standard
Photograph by David Marshall
January 27, 2011


HE’S Minchinbury’s own Billy Elliot.

At only 12, Cameron Holmes has a promising future ahead of him. The budding young dancer has starred in a major musical production and recently was selected from thousands to study at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne.

The school is an academy for gifted students and is renowned for producing dancers who have gone on to dance with the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company.

“My mum put me in dancing since I was a baby,’’ Cameron said.“I’ve kept doing it because I like dancing, learning new styles and meeting friends. I like ballet and also Broadway jazz.’‘

Mum Donna, who runs Donna Jean’s Danceforce in Minchinbury, said she is proud of her son because the school is highly competitive.“He loves ballet because he likes a challenge. It can be quite athletic for boys,’’ she said.

Cameron was inspired to study ballet when he was picked to star in Billy Elliot the Musical.

He was only eight when he starred in the role of the young Billy Elliot.“He used to watch the older Billy Elliots dance every night backstage and by the end he knew the whole routine. I think that did make him more hungry to learn,’’ Mrs Holmes said.

Although Cameron has performed many times at his mum’s studio, dancing in front of thousands of people was a completely new experience.“It was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people and the older Billys inspired me to do ballet more often,’’ he said.“Sometimes I do get nervous, but I just go on and do my best.’‘

Cameron hopes to follow in the footsteps of his favourite dancer Joshua Consandine, who also studied at the Australian Ballet School and now dances for the Sydney Dance Company.


Copyright 2011 News Community Media

The St. Marys Star
January 25, 2011

Minchinbury dancer Cameron Holmes, 12, was born to dance.


He’s living every young ballet dancer’s dream after he successfully auditioned as an interstate/international student at Australian Ballet School in Melbourne.

2011 will be a big year for Cameron, who’s also school captain at Minchinbury Public School.

Cameron is honoured to get the golden opportunity. ‘‘I kind of thought I had a chance of getting in as I felt good coming out of the auditions, knowing I had done my best,’’ he told the Star. ‘‘I feel lucky and am excited about meeting new dancers. My hopes are to get better and improve.’’

He will travel to Melbourne several times this year for intensive classes and will re-audition for his spot each year for the next three years.

Classical ballet is in Cameron’s genes, who has danced since he was two.

Mum Donna has taught dance for 27 years and runs Donna Jeans Danceforce in Minchinbury. Her former students include Plumpton-raised Steven McRae, who’s now a principal dancer with London’s Royal Ballet.

Sister Monique, now 14, starred alongside Cameron in the musical Billy Elliott two years ago.

Cameron insisted he doesn’t get a hard time from his mates about [his dancing].

[He] played soccer for five years before he shifted his focus on dancing. ‘‘It makes me feel masculine and strong,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel free when I dance.’’

His favourite dancer is former Sydney Dance Company member Joshua Consadine and recently had Summer School workshops.

‘‘Josh told how great it was for Cameron to be so humble, which was a nice as a parent to hear,’’ Mrs Holmes said.

‘‘I’m extremely proud as the Australia Ballet School is difficult to get into.’’

If Cameron can maintain his spot at the Australia Ballet School, he will eventually move to Melbourne full-time, a prospect Mrs Holmes dreads. She may be forced to decide whether to relocate the family or for Cameron move down on his own and board at the school.

‘‘I don’t what what we’re going to do if it happens,’’ she said.

‘‘He has put his heart and soul into dancing and I would hate to hold him back. But we’ve got two other kids and the studio here to think about.’


Copyright © 2011. Fairfax Media

Hills News
Photograph by Natalie Roberts
January 18, 2011


AFTER only four years of dancing, Hugo Dumapit, 9, has a promising future ahead of him. The young ballet dancer, of Glenhaven, has been picked for the Interstate Training Program with the Australian Ballet School, which is in Melbourne.

He auditioned last year for the program and will travel to Southbank in Melbourne for the training scheme in July.

He described his acceptance into the program as “very exciting and lucky”.

I like ballet because it’s passionate and it’s my style,” he said. “I’ve been doing it since I was 4 and I love it!”

Mum Carolyn Dumapit said she was proud of Hugo’s achievement and that the program was a national training program where auditions are held each year, enabling the Australian Ballet School to specially train male dancers from age 9 and older. “It’s a very big thing and very exciting,” she said. “He’s always shown promise ever since he started ballet.”

[Hugo] won [several] awards last year. He came first in four eisteddfods in classical ballet and another major achievement was the Junior Ballet Award, which was presented to him by the Australian Institute of Classical Dance.

The Australian Ballet School held auditions for the program at the University of Sydney.

Hugo has also trained in jazz and contemporary dance, dancing four days a week with the Caper School of Performing Arts which is in Bella Vista.


Copyright © 2011. Fairfax Media.


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