Late starter leaps into elite ballet school
A 15-year-old ballet dancer is the latest success story to come out of a small coastal dance school. Dayna Booth is ready to take on the next level of the art and will move to her new “second home” 2,000 kilometres away – the Australian Ballet School.
Dayna and her mum shed tears of joy when they received news the teenager had been accepted into the prestigious school.
She had dreamt of studying at the Australian Ballet School and had only recently asked the powers-that-be if they had room for someone of her talent and dedication.
The final word came in the mail a few weeks ago.
“My mum got [the letter] and half opened it because she was just so excited, but then realised it was for me,” Dayna said.
“I only read the first sentence and that was enough to know.
“My mum and I were crying.”
Dayna will move from Peregian Springs on the Sunshine Coast to Melbourne in 2015 and study in the school’s level five full-time ballet program.
The Australian Ballet School is Australia’s national centre for elite vocational dance training.
It is recognised internationally with over 90 per cent of its graduates gaining professional contracts at home and abroad.
Dayna is one of 700 dancers who applied for entry this year and will share her class with only 17 other successful level five students.
No short cuts
She says she is working hard in preparation.
“Right now I am doing 30 hours-a-week,” she said.
“I’ve mainly done 24 hours [but] it’s just in the last couple of months I’ve been doing 30 because I need to prepare myself for the big school.”
Dayna says her spins in particular are getting better with the increased training.
“There are these things called a fouette- it’s where you do multiple spins while flinging your leg around,” she said.
“I used to be able to do a single one but now I can do a single, a single and a double.
“I do get quite dizzy.”
Dayna says while her feet suffer from the hours of training they are getting stronger.
“I’ve got lots of blisters and right now I have half a bruised toe and half of [the nail] is coming off – it’s all part of the glory,” she said.
Dayna says her Peregian Springs teachers, Deborah Preece-Brocksom and Richard Leader, who were long time professional dancers in Europe, have been invaluable in her success.
“I can’t thank them enough, they’ve done so much for me,” she said.
“There’s been no other influence apart from YouTube.
“Mr Leader’s great at artistry and Ms Deborah is the master of technique [and she] is always kind and nurturing.”
Ms Preece-Brocksom says Dayna, who started ballet at the relatively late age of 10, has qualities beyond her physical skills.
“She’s very unpretentious,” she said.
“She’s got the hard work ethic.
“That’s what you look for in a child and if you find that, the level of talent is almost inconsequential.”
Ms Preece-Brocksom says the Australian Ballet School will be more competitive than what Dayna is used to, but her work ethic will see her succeed.
“[Ballet is] her hobby, her life, it’s her best friend,” she said.
“I think she will enjoy the challenge and they will enjoy having her down there.”