Dancer off to elite school

Winton teenager Damen Axtens will be dancing across the Tasman this week, after being selected to attend the prestigious Australian Ballet School.

The 13-year-old flew out of Southland on Tuesday to begin his dance training at the Melbourne school, where he will study for the next five years. 

''I'm looking forward to it - I'm just a little bit nervous.''

Axtens will stay with an exchange family in Richmond and spend half the day dance training and the remainder studying.

The school is described as Australia's national centre for elite vocational classical dance which aims to produce artistic, educated and outstanding dancers of the highest international standard.

''This is an opportunity of a lifetime.

By the time the course is completed I can audition for any ballet company that I want to.''

Axtens has danced since he was four and describes it as his passion.

''If I didn't have ballet I don't know what I would be doing - it just wouldn't be me.

''Despite the elegance of ballet he said it was very physical and while he had already sustained several injuries he was hoping to keep himself fit.

Axtens was selected to attend the Melbourne school after his outstanding performances attracted attention.

He has already won a British Ballet Organisation junior scholarship in 2009; taken out the top award in his age group in New Zealand at Wellington's Genee Junior Challenge in 2012 and achieved first runner-up at the Alana Haines Australasian Awards, ahead of 300 other ballet hopefuls last year.

The Southland Times