Castle Hill dancer bound for glory

Picture: Steven Siewert

Picture: Steven Siewert

Harrison Lee had just won the world’s most prestigious ballet prize for young people, only to have reality come crashing down when told he still had to do his chores. JESSICA AQUILINA reports.

"AS soon as we were off the plane, I was back to normal life — school and chores," Harrison said.

"But it's good to be back home, doing what I normally do and not having those pressures."

The 14-year-old from Castle Hill competed in the annual Youth America Grand Prix which is held in April, over six days, across six venues in New York.

He danced in workshops and in staged performances with 440 dancers from 31 countries — all under the watchful eyes of the judges and scouts from the world's best ballet schools.

"I just believed in myself and I gave it my best" - — Harrison Lee

Although the goal was to show others in the field his dance skills, Harrison said there was also a valuable lesson to be learnt during the competition.

"I learnt that you have to believe in yourself and not worry about who is better," he said.

"I just believed in myself and I gave it my best."

Harrison's award-winning performance, which was performed in the David Koch Theatre at the Lincoln Centre on April 9, was a variation from the classical ballet Flames of Paris, originally choreographed by Vasily Vainonen. He said it was a tough dance to perfect.

"It's physically demanding," he said.

"In one minute, you have to go out and be explosive which can be very tiring.

"Because it's a short solo, I had to give every single step my best."

Apart from winning the coveted Youth Grand Prix, he received scholarship offers to join ballet schools in Europe and the United States including the American Ballet Theatre school in New York and the Houston Ballet Academy.

Harrison said he was "overwhelmed" by the response.

"It was a really nice surprise," he said.

"For now I'm going to continue school at The McDonald College and maybe next year, in September, I'll decide what ballet school I want to go to."

To add to his success, Harrison was also awarded for the third year in a row the Isobel Anderson Award and the Arts & Culture Award at the Sydney Hills Youth Awards.

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