Richardson: Ballet is an athletic art form

Photo: Johan Persson

Earlier this year we told you about Calvin Richardson of Traralgon who now has a foot in the door at one of the world’s elite ballet companies, The Royal Ballet in London. Read the story here.

Calvin is flying back to London this week to commence with the Corps de Ballet after enjoying a holiday back home in Traralgon. We caught up with Calvin during his break about his time in the Royal Ballet School, from which he graduated in July with a Diploma in Dance, and about what’s ahead.

The 20 year old has achieved what many unsuccessfully strive for and sometimes has to pinch himself.

“When I look at the big picture, it’s crazy. The Royal Ballet one of the top five companies in the world and I’m in it!”

It’s something Calvin worked hard for and he is going to need that same physical and mental determination to climb the ladder in the Corps.

“Ballet is an athlete’s art form. Not many people can do what ballet dancers do. Many want to do ballet but only a few can. It is so physically and mentally challenging. You need determination.”

Calvin says he has seen others who can’t cope with the mental struggles and don’t stick with it.

There were points in his own journey when he could have bailed out. In particular, he took his unsuccessful audition for Billy Elliot pretty hard and was reluctant to put himself in that position again.

“It didn’t work out well and I took it quite hard. I wouldn’t have taken it further if my dad hadn’t pushed me.”

Preferring jazz, tap and musical theatre to ballet, it took some encouragement from Calvin’s father for him to enrol at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School.

Calvin says in 2008 he was thinking “I might stop dancing rather than ballet at that point, as I didn’t like ballet at the time.”

However, VCASS worked out well for Calvin and it led to him performing at the Prix de Lausanne during his final year in 2012. It was there that he impressed all the right people, gaining him a place at the Royal Ballet School.

He is now returning to London to take his place in the Corps de Ballet at the Royal Ballet.

It will be straight into classes and rehearsals upon his return but Calvin is excited that the first show he’ll be involved in includes a piece he choreographed at the Royal Ballet School. He recreated the solo from the ballet ‘Dying Swan’ made famous by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The company likes Calvin’s version and its inclusion is a great early achievement for him.

It is to be performed at an arts festival, although Calvin doesn’t know yet if he’ll perform it himself or teach it to other dancers.

As he arrives back in London, a new chapter begins for Calvin in a story that has a great distance to run.