Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Dancer ready to kick up his heels

Rotorua's Saul Newport is set to rub shoulders with some of the best in the world, when he and fellow rising ballet stars compete in a prestigious ballet competition next month.

The 13-year-old is performing in the finals of the Genee Dance Challenge - the junior version of the Genee International Ballet Competition - which is being held in New Zealand for the first time.

It will be held at Wellington's St James Theatre, which is also home to The Royal New Zealand Ballet, from December 6 to 15.

Saul has been a pupil at Rotorua's Anne Samson School of Ballet for nearly two years and the Genee Dance Challenge is his first competition.

"Before the regional heats I was really nervous but when I went out on stage I loved it.

"I can't wait to perform in front of a big audience and two amazing judges at the final next month.

"I want to become a professional ballet dancer in the future and I hope competitions like this will help me get there," he said.

Saul has been on the big stage before, performing with the Royal New Zealand Ballet while they were in Rotorua in December last year performing The Sleeping Beauty.

Anne Samson said even though Saul had come to ballet at a late age he had progressed very well.

"He's taking it all in his stride ... he is a remarkable young man ... he lives and breathes dance and works so very hard and has a brilliant attitude to achieve."

Ms Samson said Saul sat his first exam late last year gaining 83 per cent.

"You get these kids once in a lifetime so you really have to look after them. The icing on the cake is he gets to dance at the St James," she said.

Saul will perform in front of judges Lynn Wallis, artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance and Li Cunxin, artistic director designate of the Queensland Ballet and author of Mao's Last Dancer.

Saul will compete against some of the top young dancers from all over New Zealand.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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