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By Aonghus Kealy
Toronto Star
May 09, 2012

The Wagmans’ kitchen is alive as six boys, two Maltese-Shih Tzus and two parents buzz about. This is a neighbourhood social hub in this Vaughan subdivision and the Wagmans say this is their quiet day in the middle of accountant dad Michael’s tax season, two teen sons’ hockey playoffs and youngest boy Shale’s busiest time for competitive dance.

Shale is the 12-year-old ballet and dance phenom in Citytv’s star search Canada’s Got Talent: dubbed Canada’s Billy Elliot by show host Dina Pugilese. Unlike his brothers and many Canadian boys, he has no interest in hockey stars like Wayne Gretzky and Claude Giroux: he wants to be the next Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Shale was the top vote getter on the night of his semifinal performance in April, blowing away Canadians with a very emotional contemporary routine to Coldplay’s ballad “The Scientist,” getting a standing ovation from the 450-strong in attendance and the show’s three judges, comedian Martin Short, pianist and composer Stephan Moccio and opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman.

“I want to inspire Canadians to achieve their dreams,” Shale told the audience.

As one of 12 finalists competing Sunday (8 p.m. on Citytv), Shale has made his mark with strong support coast to coast, says John Brunton, the show’s executive producer. “He’s just an extraordinary talent for his age and despite his age. He’ll only get better, but he’s pretty exceptional as a dancer now. Not just technique. It’s also that magical ability to move people and he carries himself very, very well.

“I call it angel dust, charisma.

“As a producer you always ask, ‘Can somebody hold the screen? Can you take your eyes off him?’ You’re not going to change the channel when Shale’s performing.”

Brunton says it’s the same with the other 11 competitors, including two opera singers, two beatboxers, three dance troupes and a rock band.

Training between 20 to 25 hours a week at Vlad’s Dance Company in Richmond Hill, Shale is the top competitive junior dancer (ages 9-12) at the private studio, where the main hallway glitters with gold trophies. He trains for individual ballet performances, group chorus numbers, like the company’s upcoming annual June show, and with partners.

He has learned and excels at all forms of dance taught at Vlad’s. “He’s a multi-talented dancer. He’s strong in ballet, acrobatics, hip-hop, tap . . . ” says his trainer, Vlad Novitski. “He’s a little pro.”

But the little pro isn’t given the pro treatment at home. Heather Wagman, who Shale calls “my No. 1 fan,” says, “In our home, it’s about everybody. It’s not the Shale show at home. Everybody’s the same. There’s no special treatment.

“It would be very easy because he gets a lot of attention all of the time. Vlad keeps him very grounded.”

Earlier at home, Shale’s not really that interested in talking about himself, but he comes to life when the camera is ready. He walks on his toes across his mattress, then performs leaping splits and side jumps.

Looking at Star photographer Tara Walton’s playback, he isn’t happy with what she’s got. Grimacing, he tells her, “My hand looks . . .” and bends his left one backwards to show it’s bent too far back for his standards. “Can we try it again?”

That’s typical, says Novitski. While the Russian choreographer creates all of Shale’s acts, he says Shale always adds his own touch to the final product. And he always seeks perfection. “He’s one of those kids who never stops,” Novitski says. “I’ll ask him to do six pirouettes and he’ll do eight.”

Besides the Canada’s Got Talent final on Mother’s Day, Shale is in the middle of dance’s competitive season, which runs in April and May. While his brothers, Max, 15, and Jered, 13, are focused on playing for the Vaughan Rangers hockey team and the NHL playoffs, Shale is focused on competitions.

Twenty-six trophies cover one of the shelves on one bedroom wall, small black and white photo portraits on another.

And he has no interest in sticks and pucks, despite being part of a typical Canadian hockey family.

“No, not really. I love being unique, that’s just me.”

Does he watch his brothers play?

“Sometimes, when I don’t have dance and that’s like never.”

Heather Wagman says his community has embraced Shale and he has avoided being bullied despite being a dancer.

Shale is completely unconcerned with the effeminate stereotypes that come with dance. “Dance is not an area only for women. Men started dance. Women couldn’t go on the stage. When people say something like that to me, I tell them they don’t know the history of dance and how it works.

“I like it because ballet is like a culture dance. Dance is expressing your feelings through movement, to be in a different place when you’re mad or sad. You just want to go into a different place in your own mind and that’s like dance.”

WORD-GAME WITH CANADA’S BILLY ELLIOT

DANCE: A way to express your feelings.

HOCKEY: A sport that is very aggressive.

VLAD: My dancing coach that I love.

BLUE JAYS: A beautiful bird

HARRY POTTER: The movie and J.K. Rowling; yeah; I really don’t stay with it.

BALLET: A beautiful dance style that is the base of everything and makes you good at everything in dance.

BARYSHNIKOV: One of the best ballet dancers in the world. He’s my idol. I want to be really like him. He does things that are almost impossible and he’s just amazing.

TORONTO: The city I live in and that I love.

GROUP OF SEVEN: Very good art group that makes beautiful paintings and pictures.

SCHOOL: A place where I have a lot of friends and I look to be around my friends and teachers and a place I don’t like being all of the time.

MOM: My biggest fan, my No. 1 fan, I love her so much and she helps me so much for my career to become alive.

DAD: Also one of my No. 1 fans. Sacrifices a lot for my dreams to be accomplished.

BROTHERS MAX AND JERED: Also my No. 1 fans and always support me whatever I do and we will never grow apart.

RUBY AND SCOTCH: My two cute doggies that I love, I love to cuddle with them.

STUDIO: My best friends and all of my family is there.

CANADA’S GOT TALENT: I really, like, it’s the biggest talent show in the world and I love to be around everyone and it’s a great experience and opportunity.

Copyright 2012 Torstar Media Group

West Orlando News
April 30, 2012

Related Article : First Position film reflects Orlando Ballet School students’ lives

The Orlando Ballet School, considered one of the greatest training academies in the world, had an extremely successful week at the Youth America Grand Prix International Student Ballet and Contemporary Dance competition in New York City, April 22-28. Orlando Ballet school student Blake Kessler was awarded first place in the Junior Grand Prix, the top award for all men and women age 12 to 14. Kessler and Briana Berrios won second place for Pas De Deux. The Children’s Trio from Vampire’s Ball placed in the Top 12 Ensembles.

“With young dancers from around the world all competing for the top prizes, the talent at this years Youth America Grand Prix was particularly high,” said school director Dierdrie Miles Burger. “I’m very proud of all of our students for performing as amazingly well as they did.”

The Youth America Grand Prix, founded in 1999, is the world’s largest ballet competition that awards full scholarships and job contracts to dancers age 9 to 19.

Many of the students that competed from the Orlando Ballet School in this year’s Youth America Grand Prix will also be perfoming in the Orlando Ballet’s Family Series performance of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM on Saturday, May 19 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $22 and $30.

All performances are at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Orlando Ballet box office at 407-426-1739 or online at orlandoballet.org

Copyright 2012 West Orlando News Online

By Jeffery Kitt
The Bunbury Mail
May 2, 2012

Two ballet enthusiasts have landed on the pathway to stardom after the pair were awarded prestigious dancing scholarships. Siblings Harvey, 10, and Toby Mulcahy, 13, will now call Perth home after beginning their full-time scholarship at the WA Youth Ballet Company last Monday.

The Grace Christian School brothers have been dancing for four years at the Studio of Classical and Contemporary Dance after they emigrated from the United Kingdom with their family.

With a 28-hour week Monday through Saturdays, the brothers said they looked forward to honing their craft on a state level.

“We will try, try, fail, get up, and try again,” Toby said. “I like to dance and move around – it makes me feel good and bubbly inside.”

The young dancers hail from a long-line of dancers including a ballet dancing mother, gymnast father and dance teaching grandfather.

Mother Tracy Mulcahy said the family unit would be divided between Leschenault and the big smoke as they do all they can to support their dreams. “It’s a fantastic experience and most children wouldn’t get such a chance,” she said.

The scholarship covers their tuition with all expenses included.

Copyright © 2012. Fairfax Media.

Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
May 4, 2012

Something happened a little more than 10 years ago that changed the life of a teenager.

A friend convinced him to come along and check out the short track speed skaters from China who were using the Ice Center in North Logan to prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He reluctantly went, taking a break from playing video games and eating Doritos.

What happened next shaped Luke Anderson’s path in athletics, art and dance.

“I don’t know what struck me about it, but it was so cool,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I had seen somebody that was a master at something, not only that, but how hard you have to work.”

That experience set in motion a series of events that has molded the 6-foot-1 North Logan resident into the person he is today — the leading male dancer with the Cache Valley Civic Ballet (CVCB). But that is jumping ahead almost a decade.

Read the entire story:  http://news.hjnews.com/cache_magazine/article_a7cc32ec-9607-11e1-9adb-001a4bcf887a.html#user-comment-area

© 2012 The Herald Journal

by Michael Morain
DeMoine Register
May 4, 2012

Ballet Des Moines‘ 11-year-old Drew Minard of Clive recently competed in New York against dancers from more than 55 countries and was recognized as the best in his age division.

Not too shabby.

You may remember his name from the recent story about his successful efforts to found an anti-bullying club at Crossroads Park Elementary School. The move was inspired by the documentary “Bully” and his own encounters with teasing at school

But in the meantime, he won the so-called Hope Award at the annual Youth America Grand Prix, which hands out scholarships to some of the best dancing schools in the country.

“I knew Drew would win something because he is a very talented and natural entertainer but to win the Hope Award is an amazing achievement. We are all just delighted,” BDM artistic director Serkan Usta said in a press release. “Our community should be very proud of how well this young man represented his city.”

Minard has been dancing since he was 3 and, for the past year, has been coached by Usta in the School of Classical Ballet and Dance in West Des Moines.

Last month’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” featured three professional dancers (and Minard as a flying monkey), and the company is now in the process of developing a full professional lineup for an upcoming 26-week season. Under the direction of Usta and his wife, BDM ballet mistress Lori Grooters, the team will consist of dancers recruited from across the country.

Copyright © 2012 DeMoineRegister.com

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By Laura Bleiberg
The Los Angeles Times
April 29, 2012

On a recent Sunday morning, at an hour when many a teenager is still prone in bed, Adam Bernstein, 15, and Eli Gruska, 13, were lying face down on the floor of a Los Angeles ballet studio. Both boys would soon be heading to New York City for the biggest ballet competition in the country.

They and the others in this all-boys class were awaiting instructions from Marat Daukayev, former principal dancer with Russia’s famed Kirov Ballet (now the ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre).

Daukayev begins his boys’ class with sets of push-ups, not pliés. The boys count to 10 in a different language. Daukayev shouts out before each set: “French!” “Spanish!” “Japanese!” “Russian!” “Tartar!” (Daukayev’s native tongue.) “Armenian!” “Hebrew!”

The boys know them all.

We’re multi-tasking, Daukayev’s wife whispers to a visitor. Multi-tasking is a good way to summarize the existence of any young student who wants to make a career of dancing.

On the list of priorities is the Youth America Grand Prix, an international ballet competition founded in 1999 in New York City. There the boys would be joining the country’s best and brightest, ages 9 to 19, to vie for hefty scholarships from Youth America, which has become a game changer in the dance world.

Started by former Bolshoi Ballet dancers Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev — he is a soloist with American Ballet Theatre — Youth America Grand Prix has grown to become the largest and one of the most influential youth ballet competitions in the world, with more than 25,000 participants, and $2 million in scholarships distributed, according to its website. Representatives from leading ballet companies attend the finals in New York City every year, scouting for dancers. The 2012 final round was last week. (Results can be found at http://www.yagp.org.

Almost overnight, Youth America Grand Prix created a central ballet marketplace, and just as suddenly it upped the ante even higher on ballet’s infamously demanding training regimen. Competitions, though controversial, do have their supporters. They argue that contests give American students valuable performing experience, which they generally lack in comparison to their European counterparts.

On the other hand, students can have a professional career without competing. But an increasing number of students feel compelled to do so, and it can turn their lives and those of their families upside down.

How much so is demonstrated in a new documentary film,”First Position,”which opens Friday. Director Bess Kargman spent one year chronicling the lives of six exceptional students from diverse backgrounds as they prepared for the 2010 Youth America Grand Prix. Kargman said her goal for the film was “to provide intimate access into the lives of these dancers … who are extremely dedicated to ballet and come together at a competition. The competition is just what brings them together.”

In poignant scenes, some of which are hilarious, others heartbreaking, the film shows how children focus unstintingly on their preparation, pushing themselves toward a perfection that ballet demands. The movie depicts the injuries, the hours in class, the parents — some selfless, some pushy — the costs, the triumphs and the failures.

These same stories are being played out every day across Southern California by thousands of students. Their routines and their dreams are the same as those depicted in “First Position.”

Gruska, a polite blond from Encino, takes lessons six days a week, Wednesday through Monday. He takes three classes on Fridays — the boys-only, pas de deux (duets with girls) and a private lesson. His favorite company is the Royal Ballet of England, and he hopes to be accepted there one day.

“I feel like [even if] I’m nervous in the wings, the second I walk out on stage, I feel like I don’t have to be nervous anymore and I’m at home,” he explained.

Both Gruska and his classmate Bernstein, a freshman at the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts who studies every day, are willing competitors. They do it for the stage experience, they said, and because they want to be seen by the ballet scouts. But they say there is a big difference between dancing in a competition and for a performance like the “Nutcracker.”

“In a performance, you get to rely on your whole company and you’re pushing all together to achieve something. But competing it’s just you and usually there’s lots of negative energy at a competition. Not a lot,” Gruska said, suddenly softening his stance. “Actually, Youth America Grand Prix is a pretty good one. Like some competitions are just terrible….”

Bernstein interjected: “People crying in the wings.”

The Daukayevs estimated that it costs each family $6,000 to send a child to New York City for the Young American week. In addition to airfare, hotels and meals are the costs of renting studios for rehearsals, the costumes and specially commissioned solos.

Copyright 2012 Los Angeles Times

Related Article : First Position film reflects Orlando Ballet School students’ lives

By Stephanie Mlot
Frederick News-Post
Photograph by Adam Fried
April 24, 2012

 

 

Noah Strand negotiated his way into ballet. But not because he wanted to dance. “I’ll start dancing if you buy me a basketball hoop,” he told his mother, also a dancer.

More than three years later, 12-year-old Noah has pirouetted to the top of his class…

He polishes his ballet moves every day, constantly trying to jump a little higher and point his feet a little tighter, and always looking forward to his next performance, he said.

Read the full story: http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?storyID=134855

Copyright 2012 Randall Family, LLC

By Matthew J. Palm
The Orlando Sentinel
April 18, 2012

As a youngster, I nervously competed in some singing and piano competitions — but nothing more than bragging rights was ever on the line.

For Orlando Ballet School students heading to the Youth America Grand Prix finals, though, there’s a lot more at stake: An award-winning performance could be a huge step toward a successful career.
That pressure — and how the young dancers cope with it — is the subject of “First Position,”a fascinating documentary by Bess Kargman featured this weekend at the Florida Film Festival.

Coincidentally, the Orlando Ballet School contingent will be in New York this weekend for the final round of the 2012 competition.

Each year the students face larger challenges, says Dierdre Miles Burger, director of Orlando Ballet School. “Because the competition is getting more interest, there’s more talent competing — and it’s just gotten harder,” Burger says.

“First Position” follows several promising young dancers as they prepare for the Grand Prix finals in 2010. The Youth America Grand Prix, founded in 1999, is the world’s largest ballet competition that awards full scholarships and job contracts to dancers age 9-19.

“You have five minutes on stage to prove why you deserve this chance — and not somebody else,” says competition co-founder Larissa Saveliev in the film.

No pressure then.

The students depicted in “First Position” have ways of coping. So do Orlando Ballet School students Blake Kessler and Adrianna Duda

“I can’t really watch anything going on,” says Blake, 14. “I have to go into my own little world.”

Adrianna, 16, likes to watch other competitors… to a point. “If I watch too much, it’s bad,” she says. “If I don’t watch any, it’s bad.”

The two are competition veterans: It will be Adrianna’s third trip to the finals and Blake’s fourth. Although the longer you attend the more scrutiny you endure, the students say. “When you’re younger, they judge you easier,” Blake says.

The judges remember contestants from year to year and watch for signs of progress, Burger says. And the students are very aware at how closely they are being watched.

“The audience isn’t just like normal people,” Blake says with a grimace. “It’s people who can make your career, or not make your career.”

“They’re judging you on every little thing,” Adrianna adds. “It’s not like when you’re performing for the general public; they don’t notice every bit of technique.”

The students spend months and months working on their performances, which are carefully chosen by the school’s instructors. “From the school’s perspective, it’s not just about winning a prize; it’s about student development,” Burger says. “We try to pick solos that show their strengths, but ones that are also going to help them progress.”

The movie ups the drama with one student who suffers a foot injury shortly before the competition. That fear is in the back of the students’ minds, though they say they don’t dwell on it. “I get more worried when I practice that I’m going to get injured than when I’m outside,” Blake says.

“First Position” also shows one competitor’s mother working on a costume for her daughter. That’s something Blake and Adrianna don’t have to worry about. “They have the luxury of being connected to a professional ballet company,” Burger says — so costumes are readily available. And there’s no reason to go overboard with feathers or spangles, Burger says: “Simpler is better.”

Orlando Ballet School’s competitors

• Austen Acevedo, 12

• Briana Berrios, 13

• Blake Kessler, 14

• Sarah Wicorek, 14

• Arcadian Broad, 15

•Adrianna Duda, 16

• Alyssa Fazekas, 18
• Jessica Assef, 18

Copyright © 2012, Orlando Sentinel

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Lynn News
April 20, 2012

Former West Norfolk dancer Tyler Carey it hitting the high spots on the London stage this week.

For the 13-year-old is performing with The London Children’s Ballet at the Peacock Theatre in the West End, shows due to have started yesterday (Thursday, April 19) and due to end on Sunday (April 22).

Over 1,200 children auditioned for 45 places although Tyler was lucky enough to be spotted whist training with the Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden and asked to audition.

The ballet is of The Little Princess and, set in Victorian London, follows the life of an orphaned girl. Tyler has two solo parts, playing an Indian servant in one act and a pick pocket in another.

Tyler and his twin brother, Finn, originally from West Winch, both auditioned for full-time performing arts schools in 2010.

Tyler, who has also performed at the opera house and The Bloomsbury Theatre, won a place at The Young Dancers Academy and Finn at The Sylvia Young Theatre School.

Tyler’s friends and family are travelling down to see him perform tomorrow (Saturday, April 21).

He has also recently heard he has won a scholarship to train in Havana, Cuba, the home of some of the best male ballet dancers in the world. He is off in July for four weeks.

© Copyright 2012 Johnston Publishing Ltd

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Warrington Guardian
April 18, 2012

A great Sankey schoolboy will be swapping the Golden Square of Warrington for the Red Square of Moscow after winning a place at one of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools. Alessandro Caggegi will be heading to the Russian capital in September to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy – becoming only the fourth boy in the UK to be selected and the first to come from a mainstream school.

The 16-year-old said: “I started dancing at the age of five and I have been training at Kate Simmons Dance Ltd ever since. My mum was a dancer but she was more jazz and she took me to see my first ballet when I was four, and that was it from there.”

By day Alessandro, of Brentnall Close, is like any other pupil at St Gregory’s High School, but as soon as the school bell rings his focus turns to dance. “I train every day after school. I go straight from school pretty much every day, three hours a day depending on classes,” he added.

He decided to audition for the world-renowned ballet company after being mesmerised by the Bolshoi after seeing them perform. Alessandro added: “I have loved watching the Bolshoi. They did a tour when I was 10 and came to Manchester to perform Spartacus and Swan Lake. It’s been in the back of my mind and when it came to auditioning for dance schools I thought why not. Everyone at school was pretty supportive, everyone was so excited.”

Alessandro, who had to send off a video of his work to the Russian ballet company before being told he had been accepted, will start at the school after completing his GCSEs.

“At the moment I’m really excited about the move,” he said. “I have done a bit of travelling before but I don’t know what it will be like when I get there. I have just got a Russian book. You have Russian classes every day so everyone will be starting from scratch.”

Alessandro has already had success, winning national competitions for his impressive skills.

Kate Simmons, who trains Alessandro along with Tracey Moss and Gillian Hurst, said: “We are proud of him. We have a full time college here but he has the wanderlust and wants to travel. He has got very high marks all the way though his training. We wish him all the best.”

The annual fees for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy are £15,000 a year and a fundraising page has been set up from Alessandro’s website to help with the funds.

To find out more or if you can help with fundraising visit Assendro’s website.

© Copyright 2001-2012  Newsquest Media Group

Teen bound for Bolshoi Ballet Academy

by Gary Skentelbery
Warrington Worldwide
April 18, 2012

Schoolboy  Alex Caggegi , aged 16, currently in his last year at St Gregory’s Catholic High School and Warrington’s very own “Billy Elliot”, is only the fourth ever British boy to be accepted at prestigious ballet school in it’s 239 year history, the other three all coming from vocational dance schools.

He now needs to find £15,000 a year to help fund his time at the Bolshoi and also learn to speak Russian!

“I sent a DVD off to the academy showing class work and a classical and contemporary solo and was shocked when they emailed me back saying I had been offered a full three year course.”

Alex, who has been a member of the Kate Simmons Dance School for eleven years has progressed through the grades and is now working towards an Advanced 2 Cecchetti Ballet exam. As well as ballet he also does tap and jazz and plays in a brass band.

“I am really going to miss my family and friends but this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Alex, who hopes the experience will help ensure him a career with a top company.

While he would love the opportunity of appearing with the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre, he realises there is little chance, as Russian students generally fill all the available spaces.

He has already gained experience performing around the country in various shows and has won various awards, most recently the Ateneo Danza Summer School Scholarship in the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition in July, an event which attracts dancers from all over the world.

His inspiration is Mikhail Baryshnikov, a dancer with the Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.

Alex has already had a taste of Russia while on holiday in the country to watch the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre in action. He will start his training on September 1 for the next three years. “The training will be rigorous. I will not only dance ballet but also contemporary, pas de deux, historical dance and have a one and a half hour Russian lesson every day!

“I will definitely miss my dancing school, it has given me so many great memories over the years and the quality of the training is phenomenal, but I am so excited to begin my time in Russia.”

Now Alex and his family are busy fund-raising by organising a variety of events. He is also looking for sponsors and donations which can be made at the website by clicking here.

© Copyright 2012 Warrington News

By Barbara Jordan
Runcorn and Widnes World
April 17, 2012

A ballet prodigy who became only the third British boy to train at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy in 236 years is making history. Daniel Dolan, aged 19, from Widnes, scored top marks in his first two years and is now soaring to further success.

He braved the Greek riots in February to perform in Athens alongside students from London’s Royal Ballet. Daniel, of St Luke’s Crescent, said: “I was performing a piece to the music of Bach. It’s a very challenging, modern piece with quick and complicated choroeography. It includes a lot of partnering and solo work and is very exciting to dance.”

Daniel was selected to stage three pieces in a concert, after an audition in front of the entire academy. He performed the Armenian dance from Swan Lake, Fandanko from Don Quixote and the principle male variation from Le Fille Mal Gardee.

His second piece was selected to close the show and received excellent reviews.

He danced at The Bolshoi Theatre when it re-opened after a £500,000 refurbishment.

Daniel travelled 11 hours on a train to perform at a dance festival in Kazan. He said: “I absolutely love travelling to new places and new theatres to perform. It’s great to dance in front of very different audiences.” He was offered a role by two ballet companies whilst he was there.

His dad, Pete, said: “Daniel has been invited to teach students at the Bolshoi Academy in New York in the summer, a tremendous honour for a non Russian.

“He starts his final year in September and will become the second ever British student to graduate, an outstanding achievement. He will then audition for roles with top ballet companies and is set to have a world class career.”

© Copyright 2012 Newsquest Media Group

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Yorkshire Evening Post
April 15, 2012
[Edited]

He’s Chapel Allerton’s answer to Billy Elliot. Talented dancer Max Cookward has won a full scholarship to a top ballet school.

The youngster has a place at Elmhurst School for Dance near Birmingham, the first step of training to become a professional dancer. The 12-year-old impressed heads at the residential school, which is associated with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Max, from Chapel Allerton, Leeds, said: “I was a bit shocked as I didn’t even have to do a second audition. I am really excited.”

The youngster discovered a love of performing after taking part in musical theatre productions and then decided he liked the dance element.

Two years ago he won a place at Northern Ballet’s Centre for Advanced Training, a programme for young people working towards a career in dance which is an alternative to full-time training. Max has been attending sessions there five times a week after school, at weekends and during holidays and said he “loved” it.

But he then decided he wanted to audition for a full-time training school and was delighted to be accepted. “I am going to miss my family but I get to see them at weekends,” he said. “It’s a compromise but it’s a compromise worth making.”

The former pupil at Allerton Grange School ultimately aims to dance with Northern Ballet, the prestigious Rambert company or the English National Ballet.

Hannah Kirkpatrick, Northern Ballet’s academy manager, said: “Max has been training to a really high standard already and he has got lots of talent. “As much as we are really sad to see him go, it will be a good school for him. He has said he will come back for summer and Easter courses and we will hold him to that. We are really proud of him and think he will have a brilliant time there.”

© 2012 Johnston Publishing Ltd

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