Dancer takes flight

THE NEXT LEVEL: About to perform in the lead role of The Nutcracker, Gisborne dancer Austin Rice will take flight in January when he begins study at the New Zealand School of Dance. Austin is in rehearsal at the moment for the principal role in Nadine Proctor’s production of The Nutcracker which opens at the War Memorial Theatre on November 18. Picture supplied

BAFFLED by the French terminology when he took up ballet as a 10 year old, Gisborne dancer Austin Rice is now poised to make a grand jeté into the New Zealand School of Dance.

Austin was one of about 170 applicants from around the country, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines to audition for a place at the prestigious school.

“I was quite nervous but I knew the teachers and people involved in the audition process from the associate programme I’ve been involved in for the past three years.”

The scholarship programme involved intensive training four weekends a year with the school’s tutors. Trainees have to audition each year for a place in the programme as they progress from junior through intermediate to senior levels.

The dance school’s expectation is for would-be students to audition at the end of year 11.

“This is because overseas kids are dancing at a younger age,” Austin said.

“They expect you to go at that age because they want to develop you.”

The NZ School of Dance will arm Austin with a Level 7 qualification in dance performance and nutrition. Once at the school, he can look forward to dance practice for two thirds of each day. Theory, the history of dance and nutrition will make up the rest of the day. On top of that is gym and Pilates training.

The professional dance world is highly competitive, Austin said.

“It’s hard to get into professional companies. A lot of people try to get into them. Dance is really disciplined. You have to be focussed. I just love performing.”

That passion began at seven years old when he enrolled in a Dancefit Studios hip hop class. Three years later his tutor suggested he try ballet to help improve his technique so he joined the Nadine Antoinette School of Dance.

“I was really nervous and confused at first. All the moves were in French. The main thing that holds me to ballet is the discipline. I like how it’s strict and the satisfaction from practicing something you didn’t think you could do then finally getting it.”

Powerful allies have supported Austin in his passion for dance. Nadine Antoinette is amazing, he said. Pilates instructor Vanessa Vette gave him a physio assessment and designed a programme that helps strengthen particular muscle groups.

Top dancer Alana Sargent extended his skill-base when she choreographed him in a contemporary dance work.

The Dance House director Jasmine Sargent recently taught Austin another contemporary work.

“It was very unusual and different from what I’d done before. But it’s worked in my favour because it’s exposed me to another dance style I love,” Austin said.

“Alana and Jasmine’s contemporary pieces were completely different from each other. It was like learning a different language.”

BAFFLED by the French terminology when he took up ballet as a 10 year old, Gisborne dancer Austin Rice is now poised to make a grand jeté into the New Zealand School of Dance.

Austin was one of about 170 applicants from around the country, Australia, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines to audition for a place at the prestigious school.

“I was quite nervous but I knew the teachers and people involved in the audition process from the associate programme I’ve been involved in for the past three years.”

The scholarship programme involved intensive training four weekends a year with the school’s tutors. Trainees have to audition each year for a place in the programme as they progress from junior through intermediate to senior levels.

The dance school’s expectation is for would-be students to audition at the end of year 11.

“This is because overseas kids are dancing at a younger age,” Austin said.

“They expect you to go at that age because they want to develop you.”

The NZ School of Dance will arm Austin with a Level 7 qualification in dance performance and nutrition. Once at the school, he can look forward to dance practice for two thirds of each day. Theory, the history of dance and nutrition will make up the rest of the day. On top of that is gym and Pilates training.

The professional dance world is highly competitive, Austin said.

“It’s hard to get into professional companies. A lot of people try to get into them. Dance is really disciplined. You have to be focussed. I just love performing.”

That passion began at seven years old when he enrolled in a Dancefit Studios hip hop class. Three years later his tutor suggested he try ballet to help improve his technique so he joined the Nadine Antoinette School of Dance.

“I was really nervous and confused at first. All the moves were in French. The main thing that holds me to ballet is the discipline. I like how it’s strict and the satisfaction from practicing something you didn’t think you could do then finally getting it.”

Powerful allies have supported Austin in his passion for dance. Nadine Antoinette is amazing, he said. Pilates instructor Vanessa Vette gave him a physio assessment and designed a programme that helps strengthen particular muscle groups.

Top dancer Alana Sargent extended his skill-base when she choreographed him in a contemporary dance work.

The Dance House director Jasmine Sargent recently taught Austin another contemporary work.

“It was very unusual and different from what I’d done before. But it’s worked in my favour because it’s exposed me to another dance style I love,” Austin said.

“Alana and Jasmine’s contemporary pieces were completely different from each other. It was like learning a different language.”

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