Matthew Lawrence is inspired by the bounding boys at the RAD's Project B.
For two days, in early January, more than 60 dancing boys bounced down hallways and bounded into studios at Adelaide’s College of the Arts. Absolute beginners (some unconverted) to advanced students aged seven to 17 were welcomed to the Royal Academy of Dance’s (RAD) Project B (boys) summer school. Some preferred hip hop and tap, others ballet and contemporary. After two, full, ballet teaching days, I was exhausted and thrilled in equal measure.
What an exciting two days it was! We had TV cameras from Channel 9’s weekend show following us, along with other mainstream news outlets promoting the event and Project B. Excited testosterone sprinted this way and that. Down hallways to the uber cool brothers, Joel and Jesse Rasmussen,and their respective hip hop and tap classes. Then upstairs to contemporary guru David Williams, and across to me for some last-minute Project B rehearsals before the cameras started rolling! The summer school was busier than a Mentos in a Coke bottle. And, importantly, all the boys seemed inspired to dance more, and came away with like-minded mates.
During the summer school, it struck me that teaching young boys ballet, compared to girls, are worlds apart. Forget Mars and Venus, try a different solar system. Ballet, in its natural form – of gradual progression from barre to centre – rests more comfortably with a girls’ nature. Seven-year-old boys find standing still nigh-on impossible, unless it is part of a game, or competition. Our DNA is to blame; we are buffalo hunters. Like hunters, stillness is achieved in pursuit (the game), followed a sudden burst of energy (the reward) . . .