The fab­u­lous Bart­ley boys

Dubbo Photo News - - 2x2 - PHO­TOS: STEVE COW­LEY AS TOLD TO: JEN COW­LEY

Charles Bart­ley is no stranger to the na­tional danc­ing stage but now younger brother An­thony is fol­low­ing in his foot­steps and to­gether they’re a for­mi­da­ble pair. The boys have had a stel­lar run in a no­to­ri­ously cut­throat in­dus­try, but even when they’re leap­ing in the air, the tal­ented Dubbo duo has both feet firmly planted on the ground.

Charles:

IT’S been a busy cou­ple of years since I fin­ished the gig with King Kong (the stage pro­duc­tion). I did some teach­ing and a few other gigs, then au­di­tioned for Dirty Danc­ing and was given the part of Swing – that show toured the whole coun­try for 12 months.

Half­way through the con­tract, I in­jured my shoul­der and had to have a re­con­struc­tion. I’d done Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, which were the long­est stints and it hap­pened right at the end of the Mel­bourne run – so I missed Perth and Bris­bane. I made it back for the Ade­laide sea­son but was on mod­i­fied du­ties, which meant I couldn’t do cer­tain lifts.

For a dancer, a shoul­der in­jury is pretty scary – it’s a mind game as much as any­thing. You have no idea how your re-hab will go so you can work your­self into an emo­tional lather, but in a way I’m glad that I had the in­jury be­cause it made me ap­pre­ci­ate what I have and what I can do – all I wanted to was to get back to danc­ing.

An­thony ac­tu­ally took my room in Syd­ney when I left on the Dirty Danc­ing tour, as­sum­ing I’d be gone for a long time. Then I landed back be­cause of the in­jury, and ended up bunk­ing on the floor! So he helped me out, and vicev­ersa be­cause then I was around while he was do­ing quite an in­tense year at Brent Street (dance academy).

For us to end up danc­ing on (tele­vi­sion pro­gram) X-fac­tor to­gether was a re­ally cool ex­pe­ri­ence. To get to do such a great job to­gether – for which we were ac­tu­ally paid! – was very cool.

I’ve been able to im­part some of my knowl­edge to An­thony – some of the tech­ni­cal stuff but also about the emo­tion that goes with this ca­reer – be­ing frus­trated with your­self if you don’t do well in an au­di­tion; deal­ing with the re­jec­tion that hap­pens all the time. He’d come home and be a bit bummed out – and you’re al­lowed to be.

You give your­self 24 hours to nurse the dis­ap­point­ment and then you let it go and move on. But you should let your­self feel it. There are many ups and downs and weird mo­ments that go with this in­dus­try – be­cause it’s a pretty weird ca­reer in many ways.

He’s also taught me things – like to re­mem­ber my pas­sion. Af­ter be­ing in the in­dus­try for a few years now and hav­ing done so many things, it’s easy to get a lit­tle re­laxed. But to watch him come through with such a drive to learn has been rein­vig­o­rat­ing for me – re­ally in­spir­ing. There’s a fire in his eyes.

He’s a re­ally good dancer – he’s not danc­ing in any­one’s shadow. At first, peo­ple would say, “Hey, you’re Char­lie’s brother”, but he’s made his own name. And al­though we’re brothers and there­fore we’re go­ing to move in a sim­i­lar way, he’s re­ally de­vel­op­ing his own style. That’s im­por­tant, be­cause peo­ple are look­ing for that unique­ness.

I’ve al­ways be­lieved in An­thony, but some­times the hard­est thing has been to get him to be­lieve in him­self. For him to have done all he’s done in such a short time is very cool and I’m so proud of him. He’s not just a good dancer, he’s funny and he’s su­per in­tel­li­gent. He’s great to be around and he’s re­ally grounded. He’s not just my brother, he’s a re­ally good friend. We can hang out to­gether all day ev­ery day and not get sick of each other.

It’s cool to be able to come back to Dubbo Bal­let Stu­dio. It’s my favourite thing – to help in­spire kids; they’re thirsty for knowl­edge and I have it, so to be able to pass it on is a priv­i­lege.

Suc­cess as a dancer re­lies on sheer hard work and ded­i­ca­tion as much as on tal­ent. As a teacher, you can al­ways spot the kids who are pre­pared to put in that hard work. In Syd­ney, you might find a re­ally tal­ented kid, but they’ve had all the op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of them their en­tire lives, so their drive isn’t as te­na­cious. You’ll find that a lot of work­ing dancers in Syd­ney aren’t orig­i­nally from there. Coun­try kids tend to fight much harder for that dream and you can spot that in the class­rooms – the kids who will fight to re­ally per­fect a step or get their leg just that bit higher. They’re the ones you keep an eye on be­cause, with sup­port, they’re the ones who’ll try hard­est to pur­sue danc­ing as a ca­reer.

Dubbo’s been fer­tile ground for dancers and tal­ent in the arts. Why is that? Good ques­tion. Part of it is that we have ac­cess to the city and all the ex­pe­ri­ence it has to of­fer. There’s a con­stant back and forth of peo­ple within the arts com­mu­nity. I think the new re­gional theatre (DRTCC) has been a huge part of that, but I also think Dubbo peo­ple are brave. They have the courage to chase their dreams – even if it means go­ing be­yond their home town or their coun­try.

In­clud­ing my lit­tle brother.

An­thony:

IT’S a lit­tle sur­real to come back to Dubbo as a dance teacher – to Dubbo Bal­let Stu­dio where I’m teach­ing kids was danc­ing and learn­ing with only 18 months ago. It’s dou­bly cool to be able to do it with my brother.

Last year was mas­sive – kick­ing off with a move to Syd­ney in Jan­uary to start a Cer­tifi­cate IV in Dance at Brent Street. Then I went to the US in the middle of the year – go­ing to Los An­ge­les, Las Ve­gas and New York. At the be­gin­ning of Au­gust, I had a call com­pletely out of the blue by Gray­boy – an agency – which had some­how heard of me and I was ab­so­lutely dumb­founded when they signed me and started send­ing me for au­di­tions.

My se­cond au­di­tion ever was for Xfac­tor, which led to three months’ work danc­ing with the con­tes­tants ev­ery week and with Charles. That cul­mi­nated in danc­ing with Kylie and Danni Minogue. This was all un­heard of for some­one so new to the in­dus­try. To find my­self stand­ing next to Kylie Minogue and help­ing her down 15 flights of stairs was pretty in­cred­i­ble. We had lots of re­hearsal time and by show­time we were good to go, but I have to ad­mit it was nerve wrack­ing – the but­ter­flies were fly­ing around in the stom­ach!

Be­ing able to dance with Charles is a buzz. I grew up be­ing in­spired by him – he’s the rea­son I started danc­ing when I was seven years old. Thir­teen years later, there we are danc­ing to­gether on na­tional tele­vi­sion with an au­di­ence of a mil­lion peo­ple.

I re­mem­ber watch­ing Charles dance at the (Dubbo) Civic Cen­tre when I was seven – he’s five years older than me – and I leaned over to Mum and said, “I want to do that too”. I’ve been danc­ing ever since. He’s been a men­tor, a teacher to me all the way through – es­pe­cially over the past 12 months.

He’s not just been a brother, he’s been the in­spi­ra­tion for my ca­reer and my best friend too. He’s been fan­tas­tic over the past year – I’m not sure how I would have man­aged with­out the ben­e­fit of his ex­pe­ri­ence and guid­ance. He was able to share his ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try, but also give me lit­tle tips and tricks that have been so help­ful.

The funny thing is I don’t feel like I’ve ever been in Charles’ shadow. I never felt pres­sured to live up to what he’d done. Peo­ple knew what he was ca­pa­ble of and they just waited to see what kind of dancer I’d be and what I was ca­pa­ble of. I did feel for a few years like I was Char­lie Bart­ley’s brother but the more ex­pe­ri­ence I get, the more I’m com­ing into my own style – and I think Charles is now oc­ca­sion­ally get­ting “Oh, you’re An­thony Bart­ley’s brother!”

He’s one of the most grounded, downto-earth peo­ple I know. He’s com­pletely non-judge­men­tal, which is some­thing I as­pire to be. He never passes judge­ment and he’s there in the blink of an eye, no mat­ter what, if you need him. And he’s one of the fun­ni­est peo­ple I know – we have lots of laughs and he’s a blast to be around. It’s not just as a dancer that I look up to him – he’s an all-round role model.

Our older brother James is an­other of my role mod­els. He took the road that I con­sider much harder than Charles’ and mine – he’s a lawyer. He stud­ied and worked hard and cre­ated a fu­ture for him­self that he’s very happy with. He’s a bloke that’s just con­stantly happy – he does what he loves and he loves what he does.

Same as Charles and me – and how lucky are we?

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