With deft one-handed flapping and speaking in mousy tones, Perth’s Jasmine Henry seems like the perfect candidate for one of the world’s leading ballet schools.
And after a recent visit to the centuries-old Russian Ballet Academy Vaganova, the 15-year-old’s performance dreams are about to come true. Jasmine, who trained full-time in ballet three years ago, will leave her Perth home in September to take up a coveted position at Vaganova.
She is believed to be just the third ballet dancer from WA to date Vaganova and the first in almost 25 years.
“When I was about 12, I saw all the amazing videos online of Vaganova Ballet Academy dancers and I wanted to be like them one day,” said the WA philanthropist’s niece and former dancer at the Australian Ballet Company, Tonya McCusker.
“I pinch myself again. I couldn’t believe it when they said that I had been accepted and my whole life had completely changed for the better. I cried, I was so upset. It’s a small step in a giant ladder of a ballet dancer’s career.
Jasmine said she started ballet dancing at the age of four and studied at the School of Isolated and Distance Learning for nearly three years so she could train full time. She confessed to having been completely seduced by the art of dance.
“You feel the music and it takes you on a journey through the emotions,” she said. “Music runs through your veins and it’s just the most amazing feeling.”
Her teacher Sergey Pevnev, a Vaganova graduate and former WA Ballet Company principal dancer, said Jasmine had the potential to become an international ballet superstar. He said Vaganova, which was established in 1738, was recognized as one of the best classical dance schools in the world.
“What do I see in her?” That in a few years I’ll get a phone call saying, ‘Sergey, please, can you come to Mariinsky and watch my performance of Sleeping Beauty?’ he said.
“When she first walked into the studio, I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is the best student I could ever have.’ This is the person who, when she walks into the studio, becomes bright, even if it’s a bad day.
Jasmine will perform today, for the last time before leaving, at the 2018 RAD Dance Festival at John Curtin College of the Arts in Fremantle.