Stage success for ballet talent

Henry Burgess is no stranger to representative sport, with soccer, swimming, running and tennis among his sports of choice.

But the Year 4 student at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Oatley is also making waves on stage as a junior member of the Australian Ballet.

Henry, 9, took his first ballet class in Kindergarten and auditioned successfully for the prestigious dance company in 2016.

I got out of the studio thinking it was the best day ever.

– Henry Burgess

He appeared most recently on stage in Nutcracker – Story of Clara, where he played a Russian and an Australian boy in its opening scenes and danced in transition scenes that showed the growth of characters at a conservatoire in St Petersberg.

“The audition for the Australian Ballet was tough because there were lots of boys, but I got out of the studio thinking it was the best day ever,” he said.

“We got back from an afternoon out, my family, and there was this big letter that said I was accepted into the Australian Ballet. I got tears of joy. It was really exciting. A week later they told me I was in this production called Coppelia.”

Henry said he loved everything about dance, from being with friends to doing different steps and going on stage.

“I don’t really say much at school to my friends about the productions, and not technical stuff – I keep it quiet because I don’t want to show off,” he said.

“The boys at school have lots of questions about it. They ask ‘Why are you wearing tights?’ and ‘Isn’t ballet for girls?’

“I just say ballet is for boys and girls. They ask ‘Is it a sport?’ and yeah, it is. They’re really supportive of me.”

Henry was also part of the school showgroup’s Sydney Eisteddfod win this year with other students in Years 4 to 6; (“we had worked so hard we won $100 for our school”), six-hour day school holiday ballet workshops in Melbourne; (“It was intense but fun”) and the 2017 Mackillop swimming team; (“It was tough but I got through it”).

“I’m not sure how I fit it all in but I’ve got to thank my mum for that,” he said.

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