Toe-tapping Christchurch teenager wins top NZ dance title video

Stacy Squires/The Press

Senior NZ Dance Award Tap Scholarship and the NZ Top Dancer for 2015 awards. His dance teacher is Jan Ruardy a registered teacher of NZAMD.

Bayley Graham can't help but let his mind wander to a world of beats and routines and his toes tap in maths class.

The devoted tap dancer has been named as one of the best in the country after winning the Senior New Zealand Dance award tap scholarship and the title of New Zealand Top Dancer 2015.

"The ultimate goal is to get famous for what I do," he says.

Bayley Graham, 15 of Christchurch is a multi-award winning tap dancer who has been named the NZ Top Dancer for 2015.
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

Bayley Graham, 15 of Christchurch is a multi-award winning tap dancer who has been named the NZ Top Dancer for 2015.

At the NZ Dance Awards, run by Garden City Tappers and Performing Arts Association Inc, and held over Queen's Birthday Weekend in Christchurch, Bayley also won titles in cabaret solo, speed tap, latin tap, waltz tap, slow tap and tap solo for the 15 years and over category.

Before gaining the title, the Burnside High School pupil had to go "head to head" with the top jazz dancer for a mark comparison, which put him in the top spot.

It was the third consecutive year the "laid back" teen had won the title – only this year he was up against dancers in their late teens.

The 15-year-old started tap dancing at the age of six. His interest in dance came after watching the televised dance competition So You Think You Can Dance?

He now has hundreds of trophies at home and could take off any style from Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, to Michael Jackson, and from the Nicholas Brothers to Charlie Chaplin.

"It doesn't matter what you give him, he adapts his style to suit that character," said Graham's teacher and Stage Door Dance Studio director, Jan Ruardy.

"I think he has the X factor. He has particularly good rhythm and timing," Ruardy says.

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Graham hopes to one day hit the bright lights of Broadway after gaining a degree in dance. Until then, it is NCEA dance classes and endless hours of tap practice.

He dances four times a week and every Sunday devotes more than four hours to perfecting his craft.

Ruardy choreographs all the footwork and the teenager "puts his own style in".

"I like to put my personality into it," Graham says.

After raking up more than 50 championship titles, his first impromptu dance had Jan reaching for the rescue remedy.

"It was getting him from the dressing room up to the stage. It was sheer panic," Ruardy says.

In true Bayley style, he ended up doing a "marvellous job".

After several years with Ruardy's school, Graham is part of the furniture – and he likes to give back to the woman who helped keep him on his toes by cleaning and even dusting the light shades.

When not teaching or practising his solo and team work, he entertains elderly residents in rest homes and hit the streets with his tapping and juggling busking routine.

 - The Press


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