A whirlwind fortnight has paid off for Whanganui dancer Ardon England. The former Rutherford Junior High dance teacher left for Auckland last month to pursue a career in what is his passion.
That began with a two-week crash course at the Okareka Dance Company. England found out he'd been accepted only days before it began.
"So within four days I'd packed up my stuff and headed up to Auckland," he said.
It was an intensive two-week hip-hop and drama dance course, which included yoga and body conditioning.
"It's actually been a great foot in the door for me in Auckland," he said. So good, in fact, that it got him a paid gig straight away. England will perform a solo dance in the cabaret-style Night of the Queer show at the invitation of Okareka's co-artistic director Taane Mete.
The show, at the Auckland Performing Arts Centre, is part of the Auckland Pride Festival.
England said it was a huge opportunity to gain exposure and experience through working with choreographers Mete and Tai Royale of Okareka.
"They've had a few shows that they've sent around the world, they're two of New Zealand's top male choreographers," England said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. So many people go up there and fight for years for their dream. There are so many dancers up there wanting to do their thing."
His decision to head north to pursue a dance career has been vindicated by the gig.
"I walked out of those two weeks feeling like I had so much work to do on myself, but I learned so much," he said.
"But who knows what could come out of it?"
England began dancing as a teenager and represented New Zealand overseas as part of the national youth salsa team. "Most of my training was done at a young age," he said. "It was only really last year that I started working on it again."
England is living in Auckland with Whanganui woman Karen Ellett, who is doing the Actor's Programme course.