Dancer rejects the 'norm'
A ballet dancer who can't bare to blend in is quickly pirouetting his way to the top of the dancing world.
Riki Kudo, 15, has been awarded a scholarship by the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne.
Starting in January he'll spend three years training with some of the world's top performers in the institution that feeds Australia's national ballet company.
Riki was a late starter in ballet terms and was nine when he was introduced to the art by a friend.
"I thought ‘that looks cool' so I gave it a shot," he says.
"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," he says.
The real life Billy Elliott is a student at the Philippa Campbell School of Ballet in Mt Eden.
New Zealand ballet dancers must sit internationally set exams to progress through their training.
Riki moved up five grades in his first two years which is an achievement that would take most students around five years.
"I'm not sure where I'll end up, it would be nice to dance in Europe," he says.
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 coming to New Zealand for the first time.
Riki is too young to dance in the full competition but is taking part in a junior section for dancers from throughout New Zealand.
Male dancers are nothing new, but Riki 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 says.
Teacher Philippa Campbell says despite Riki's success he has only recently ‘come out of his shell'.
"He's very precise, very detailed and has a nice natural bounce," she says.
"The thing we have had to work most on is getting him to believe in his ability and project personality. He's always been a bit shy," she says.
Philippa Campbell School of Ballet students Patricia Cenan, Sophie McIntosh and Zoe Bedford are all competing in the full Genee International Ballet Competition.