Ballet more of a man's world

BALLET master Dale Baker says it is encouraging to see more boys applying for the Australian Ballet School.

“But the problem is for boys there is still a stigma associated with being a male dancer, but from my experience it is a wonderful profession,” said Mr Baker, who is travelling with The Dancers Company - the regional touring arm of the Australian Ballet - that is performing Don Quixote in Orange.

“You get to travel the world, meet fantastic people and have some wonderful experiences.”

Harrison Hall will be performing to something of a home-town crowd when he plays the role of Don Quixote’s trusted companion Sancho Panza in the full-length ballet. Mr Hall’s mother Shauna performed with the Orange Theatre Company in the 1970s and 80s and his grandfather Fred also danced in Orange.

Last night Mr Hall was a little more nervous than usual on opening night.

“Just going out there and performing in front of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and cousins who haven’t seen me dance professionally before will be quite an experience,” he said. “But it will be great and I can’t wait.”

Mr Baker said in the 15 years since he took on the role of ballet master he had seen a change in the calibre of young dancers coming through the Australian Ballet School.

“They just seem to be more mature and are so knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects,” he said.

He said one of the biggest challenges for the group of dancers during this tour was maintaining their energy levels for what has been a long tour of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

“That is all part of the educative process of learning how to manage their bodies for peak performance at a time when if they were back at the school they would just be finishing up for the day - rather than going on stage to perform for two hours,” he said.

In the audience for last night’s performance was 10-year-old Miriam Kwa, from Orange, who started ballet four years ago.

“I went along with my friend because she seemed to have so much fun,” Miriam said.

“Then she quit but I wanted to keep going.

“I love it because every lesson you are learning new things.”

Miriam is a busy young student who attends classical ballet and contemporary dance classes, learns speech and drama and also plays the viola and piano.