Teenager Daley Catip dances six days a week in a studio in rural Queensland, but he has his sights set on the big city.
And now a prestigious classical ballet school in Sydney thinks he deserves the chance to dance with the best the city has to offer.
The 14-year-old joined his mother on the dance floor aged four and has never looked back.
He left the bush to attend a workshop at Tanya Pearson Academy in Sydney and was offered a position in its affiliate program.
Daley will travel to Sydney throughout the year for intensive training with full-time students and school teachers while completing Year 10.
“It was crazy to be able to be in a professional company, to see how they work, it’s really amazing,” he said.
“I would just like to gain more experience in different techniques because they do a lot of different ballets, [it] will really improve my dancing.”
Crossing rural barriers to dance
Daley’s mother, Aleisha Catip, a former ballroom dancer, said she discovered his love for dancing when he was a toddler.
“It’s always nice to have the acknowledgment that he’s on a certain level… the acknowledgment that he’s on that level and can mix it up with the kids in town.”
Ms Catip said the family often travel hundreds of miles for Daley’s dance engagements but said it was ‘worth every second when you see it all fall into place’.
“Being so rural, the financial aspect is much more difficult and more time-consuming, trying to fit everything in because it takes us a long time to attend a workshop,” she said.
“There are challenges, but we’re doing our best and the people at the academy are doing their best to present all the opportunities they can. For the kids in the city, it’s within reach.”
Leading the way for the next generation
Alexandra Davis, a teacher at the Emerald Academy of Dance who has seen Daley progress over the past four years, said Daley had changed dramatically.
“He’s improved so much and accomplished so much in all areas of dance,” Ms. Davis said.
“It’s hard to be so far from all the big centers and to take part in workshops, masterclasses and competitions, so it’s really significant that he came in.
“The program is to put him in touch with other teachers, other boys, especially because he has no other boys his age to work with.”
Ms. Davis hopes the program will give Daley a taste of life as a full-time dancer in the industry and improve her skills.
“We would like him to stay versatile and stay grounded in what he does so he can be the best version of himself.
“We’ve had kids who got into dancing full-time in Melbourne and Sydney, but none of them have made long-term careers out of their work so far.
“We hope Daley can break the mould.”
Daley is also completing her Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management.
“After I graduate, I want to do full-time dance training for two years and from there, I hope to join a traveling company that puts on shows,” he said.
“Just to travel the world playing, doing what I love.”