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Ty King-Wall



One could say I fell into dancing  by accident.   No one else in my family was a dancer. In fact, both of my parents were teachers. When I was seven, one of my  friends  at school was ta k ing ballet class and was the only boy, so I went along with him for  moral support . After a few weeks of  lessons  he decided it wasn’t for him , but I fell in love with it!  My mother  saw th at I was enjoying my dancing , so she took me to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of  Swan Lake  . Seeing that performance  was the first moment I remember thinking “t  his  is something I want to do  when I gro w up    .


When I was  11, my family moved to  a different  part of New Zealand. I had a new male ballet teacher, Scott  Milham  , who  helped  keep up my enthusiasm for ballet. He showed me many videos of famous male dancers, and taught me all the turns and jumps in the men’s ballet vocabulary.  A  t this point, my dancing was  still  very raw  ,  and my  technique  was not the best. But this was when I lost the fear  for these big virtuosic steps, which  was  important as I got older.

It is at your lowest point, not your highest, that your true strength as a dancer and a person is revealed. We grow the most when we are in the midst of our greatest challenges.

When I was 16,  I moved to Melbourne to  train at the Australian Ballet School, where I was taught by Dale Baker. He wa  s an amazing teacher, who instilled in me the importance and responsibility of partnering as a male dancer. Alt  hough leaving New Zealand and m oving away from home was hard, I knew that I didn’t want to look bac  k with any regrets. Luckily, everything worked out for the best and I joined the Aust  ralian Ballet in 2006. When I joined  the company  , I was incredibly fortunate to have a number of particularly strong male principals to watch and learn from: Steven Heathcote, Robert Curran, Damien Welch, Matthew Lawrence. As a  young dancer, it was great to see what was possible, what  the standard  was, and the level you we  re expected to live up to.  It made me realize that  the  hard  work  was only just beginning!

Over the years, I’ve  had a number of injuries, with particularly serious ones in my lower back.  Being off for extended periods of time was incredibly difficult, and I often  doubted my ability to come  back  . Without question  the  biggest achievement  in my career has been returning to the stage from these injuries  . As dancers, we constantly rely on our bodies. Wh  en they betray us, we feel as though we have lost our identity  .  But  it is at your lowest point, not your highest, that your true strength as a dancer and a person is revealed  .  We grow th  e most when we are in the midst of our greatest  challenges.

Eventually,  I was able to return to dancing, and one of the highlights since returning was guesting  with the Royal New Zealand Ballet  , in the same production of  Swan Lake  that inspired me as a child. It fe  lt like I’d come full circle, and  was a very  proud moment for my family and I  . More than anything, there are no guarantees in a ballet career. Everyone has to find his or her own path. Ultimately, the best chance for success is to put everything on the table, be receptive to what others have to offer, and absorb it all. Life is too short to look back and w  onder if things could have been different  .

All photos courtesy of  The Australian Ballet



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