Ballet in the blood for Wellington family who are celebrating a Royal appointment
A shared love of pirouettes and pointe has seen a Wellington aunty and nephew reach stunning heights in the world of ballet.
Wellington ballet teacher Paula Hunt has become the first Kiwi appointed as artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, while her 17-year-old nephew John Paul Lowe is looking to follow in her footsteps after being offered a place in the prestigious Australian Ballet School.
Hunt, who started her own academy in Wellington 45 years ago, will be responsible for maintaining ballet standards the world over, ensuring the 200 examiners scattered around the globe are up to scratch.
"Whether the students are taking dancing or a degree or a course, I have to make sure everything is being delivered with artistic integrity," she said.
Lowe first danced at his aunt's academy aged four, in a class exclusively made up of boys.
Since then everyone of his old classmates have hung up their tights and pointes, but Lowe persevered.
"Always at face level there's that feminine thing, but I've never come across any bullying. There's a lot of almost shock - like 'wow, you do ballet'," he said.
"I have all these wonderful friends that I have made, and they're all girls, so quite a few (guys) are actually quite jealous."
Lowe has already performed in the Royal New Zealand Ballet productions of Madame Butterfly, Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty.
With the invitation to the Australian Ballet School he is well on his way to finding a company and performing on the world stage.
He has his sights set on America, specifically the Houston Ballet.
The aunt-nephew duo recently teamed up for their first collaborative piece performed at the Genee Competition in Sydney.
"We choreographed the dance that he did, it was beautiful. It was really lovely, a wonderful moment," Hunt said.
"I'm very proud of this boy," she said.
As artistic director at the Royal Academy of Dance, Hunt will sit directly beneath the chief executive in possibly the most prestigious dance academy in the world.
Among her ambitions in the new role, Hunt said she wanted to bring a forward-looking approach which provided examiners and teachers with greater support in order to grow the dance form.
"Ballet is historical, there is a way of doing things and that cannot change. Ballet is ballet, the technique is there. But it's how you approach the teaching of it needs to be fresh and new."
Last year Hunt was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to dance.
- Sunday Star Times