Teen dancer destined for stardom
North Shore teenager Rikki Kudo is a real life Billy Elliot.
The 15-year-old has been awarded a scholarship by the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne, and in January will begin three years of training with some of the world's top performers.
The school feeds Australia's national ballet company.
The Westlake Boys High School student was a late starter in ballet terms and was nine when introduced to the art by a friend.
''I thought 'that looks cool' so I gave it a shot,'' he said.
''I don't like to just be normal, I like to be unique. I don't want to do rugby with the boys because to me it's normal and a bit boring.''
Kudo, a student at the Philippa Campbell School of Ballet in Mt Eden, moved up five grades in his first two years, something most dancers take about five years to do.
Kiwi ballet dancers must sit international exams to progress through their training.
''I'm not sure where I'll end up, it would be nice to dance in Europe,'' he said.
The Hillcrest resident has performed in Sydney and New York and this week is heading to Wellington for the Genee International Ballet Competition.
The event is considered to be the Olympics of ballet and is being held in New Zealand for the first time.
Kudo is too young to dance in the full competition, but is taking part in a junior section.
Male dancers are nothing new, but Kudo admits there is still a stigma attached to being a boy in what many see as a woman's world.
''Going to an all-boys school causes a few problems. I just laugh and pretend it's fine,'' he said.
Teacher Philippa Campbell said despite Kudo's success he has only recently 'come out of his shell'.
''He's very precise, very detailed and has a nice natural bounce. The thing we have had to work most on is getting him to believe in his ability and project personality.''