Dancer signs with Russian company

BRITTANY MANN
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2014
Tasman Davids
MARK OLICH/ SUPPLIED

TOUGH LESSONS: Dancers Tasman Davids and Zina Gagarskaya at Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St Petersburg. 

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The man in tights is back.

Cantabrian Tasman Davids has spent the past three years training at the birthplace of Russian ballet - Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg. He is thought to be Vaganova's first Australasian student in its 276-year history.

Having graduated last month, the 22-year-old is back in Christchurch to wrangle a working visa. A contract with the Yakobson ballet theatre, awaits him in St Petersburg.

Davids hopes to be dancing by October. In the meantime, he has been teaching at Southern Ballet, where his pupils have been spared Vaganova's teaching methods.

When they were not throwing chairs at him, one of the teachers "who knows a little bit of English, liked to call me a 'stupid f...... sheep'," he said.

Davids said it was the best way to learn.

"We're too PC for it in New Zealand, which is why we very rarely produce [good] dancers.

"I'm all for being nice and lovely to everyone, but it builds people's personalities and I think you learn to deal with stuff better."

Davids had to overcome some challenges to make it to his graduation - the language barrier, 12-hour work days and broken feet.

He also had two months to raise more than $41,000 in tuition fees, flights and living costs, which he did through a combination of the Inspire grant, the generosity of parishioners at Durham St Methodist Church, and strangers.

"There isn't really words for what you can say to people like that, who give what they have, and even what they don't have sometimes, just to help you out," Davids said.

"It ups the pressure in a sense. If you're doing it yourself and you fail, it's your own thing. Now, you're doing it for other people as well."

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- The Press

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