Bal­let to Broad­way

Grad re­flects on his years at Canada’s pres­ti­gious dance school

The Kids Post - - Arts Profile - By Bree Rody-man­tha

Liam Red­head may have just grad­u­ated from Canada’s Na­tional Bal­let School in June, but the 18year-old has al­ready ac­cu­mu­lated a pretty im­pres­sive re­sumé.

He first be­gan train­ing at the Na­tional Bal­let School (NBS) in 2007 at age 12 and it wasn’t long be­fore he took the stage by storm. In 2007 and 2008 he ap­peared in the Na­tional Bal­let of Canada’s an­nual pro­duc­tion of The Nutcracker. The fol­low­ing year, Red­head took a year off from NBS to pur­sue the ti­tle role in the Tony Award–win­ning mu­si­cal

Billy El­liot on Broad­way. “The role re­quires singing and act­ing, which I had no ex­pe­ri­ence in,” says Red­head. But, he says, the deco­rum and ded­i­ca­tion learned from NBS was vi­tal to his suc­cess. “My ex­pe­ri­ence at NBS helped me be­cause it gave me a sense of dis­ci­pline that I didn’t have be­fore.”

Af­ter al­most a year of shar­ing the role of Billy with two other young per­form­ers, Red­head re­sumed his train­ing in Toronto. Most re­cently, Red­head and four fel­low stu­dents per­formed at the Paris Opera Bal­let School’s 300th an­niver­sary in Paris, France.

Like many boys, Red­head didn’t fall in love with bal­let at first sight as a young­ster. “I only started danc­ing be­cause my older sis­ter danced,” he says. “Af­ter two years of do­ing tap, jazz and hip hop, I wanted to join the com­pet­i­tive team, which meant I had to do bal­let, which I hated. But af­ter a few weeks of pout­ing in the cor­ner, I even­tu­ally took part in the class and grew to love it.”

While at­tend­ing a week-long sem­i­nar, Red­head met Ray­mond Lukens of the Amer­i­can Bal­let The­atre’s Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis School. Lukens con­tacted NBS to ar­range for Red­head’s au­di­tion. “A few weeks later I moved to Toronto,” says Red­head, who grew up in the small city of North Bay, Ont.

Leav­ing home at 12 years old was dif­fi­cult, but Red­head made friends fast. “It’s a small school, with about 150 kids from Grade 6 to 12. All the stu­dents know each other pretty well. The friend­ships are very close be­cause ev­ery one shares a com­mon in­ter­est with the same goals.”

The ed­u­ca­tion was a shock, too. “At my old stu­dio, we were do­ing ad­vanced steps and chore­og­ra­phy, but NBS went back to the be­gin­ning, teach­ing re­ally sim­ple vo­cab­u­lary to build a stronger foun­da­tion.”

But it has worked out well for the teen.

“The past six years have re­ally been a roller coaster,” says Red­head, who will be do­ing a year of post­sec­ondary study at NBS to pre­pare for what’s to come — au­di­tion­ing for com­pa­nies around the world.

Liam Red­head’s train­ing at NBS has taken him around the world

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