Twelve-year-old Tamati Graham has not stopped smiling since he found out he had secured a scholarship with the New Zealand School of Dance, and scored an enviable 100 percent in his British Ballet Organisation Intermediate Foundation ballet exam.
The budding Ashburton ballet dancer has earned a scholarship to the New Zealand School of Dance which, along with attending a week-long summer intensive programme in Wellington, will also see him attend two weekend training sessions per term during the year.
And the exam result is another notch in his growing list of ballet endeavours to show he is on the right pathway to a career with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which would be his dream job.
He is very excited and got a taste of it last year when he appeared in the Royal New Zealand Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty in Christchurch last November with fellow Mid Canterbury dancer Matilda Farr.
His involvement will be assessed on an annual basis, but Tamati is hopeful of a successful year and making it to the associate level next year.
Tamati’s audition with the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington was in late October.
He was selected to attend after sending in a detailed resume of past works and achievements, along with a handwritten letter of application as to why he wanted to attend the school.
The audition itself included exercises at the bar, turning and jumps, and stretching to show what his body was capable of performing, he said.
There were many other dancers from around the country in his audition group, which was one of many groups vying for the prestigious opportunity.
It now means Tamati’s summer holidays will involve keeping up his fitness, along with plenty of stretching exercises.
Tamati has been learning ballet since he was eight and is studying with the Southern Ballet company, in Christchurch, under the instruction of Lioudmila Solovieva.
His dance rehearsals involve lessons in Christchurch four times a week, as well as at home.
He has an extensive repertoire that includes ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, acro, and partnering classes. He also did many years highland dancing.