Eden McAuliffe. Dancer.

“There is so much stereotype surrounding dancers. I know from experience how tough it can get, especially when you’re younger. You’re gonna cop it. You’ll have those spells where you get bullied for doing dance. But if you love it, you just have to ignore it and push though.

A lot of dance schools are not set up to cater for boys, which doesn’t help. You know, you walk in and the walls are pink, the uniforms are pink, and there are all female teachers. Being one of the only males in dance… it’s hard as a young boy to feel like you belong. And then there is the image or stigma, in middle school especially, that if you are a male dancer you are a bit weak.

Now I’m out the other end of school and I’m looking into dance companies, I’m seeing that it’s a lot more balanced out. There’s an even number of males and females and I look up to the male company dancers and they’re just incredible athletes – they’re machines. The power and the raw energy that they bring is amazing. The girls bring strength too of course, and they have to do pointe… Thank god I don’t have to do pointe. I probably would have quit dancing if I had to do pointe [laughs].

I started dancing when I was four years old. I did everything – ballet, jazz, tap, even song and dance. Then the further through I got the more I started specialising in ballet and contemporary. I find ballet to be the most rewarding. I get such a feeling of accomplishment out of the strictness and structure of ballet. You put in the hard work and eventually you get there; you feel good and you feel like you’ve achieved something. I love that. And then when you go across to contemporary, there is a freedom. Like I can express myself and just be me with contemporary. It’s not really about trying to get somewhere; it’s more about being who you are. You express yourself out. Hmmm… It’s hard to explain but that’s what I enjoy about contemporary. I can do it my way and that’s ok.

I’m currently in year twelve at school and studying over at the Queensland Ballet Academy. Every morning I’m out the door by 6am and I dance until lunch, then I go to school after. I get home at six at night so they’re long days. It’s tiring and trying to fit everything in is hard. Especially when you see everyone else go home at three and you’re like “I’ve gotta keep going”.
I’m not gonna lie, I have my days where I want to sleep all day. Sometimes it gets a bit tough and you get worn down; you’re like “what am I doing?” but, I don’t know, you sort of force yourself to do it. You don’t want to get up, but at the same time you can’t stop yourself from doing it either. Does that make sense? It’s sort of like an addiction. You find a way and you do it anyway. Something in my head makes me get up and then once I’m there and I’ve done some classes, my mental state changes again. In that movement you realise why you love it so much. It’s a passion. It’s my passion and nothing can stop me.

Its a little bit hard to describe and explain. It’s like… I don’t know… I guess that’s why I dance.
I struggle sometimes with words, but when I dance, then I can express it.”

“In my spare time and on my days off, when it’s not dance and it’s not school and I don’t have anything to do, I’ll either go to the beach or I’ll go out the back and do some stuff with Dad. At the end of the day, as much as I’m a Dancer and I have to be disciplined, when I’m not dancing that all goes out the window. I’m climbing trees and riding bikes and going for drives; anything adventurous and out there that’s possible! I love surfing. I got into that when I was about twelve and I picked it up fairly quickly because a lot of it is balance and core. Now I also Surf, Snowboard, Skate… I just love anything with tumbling tricks and big jumps!

My favourite dancer? That’s a hard question, you can’t do that! I love all of them.
Like Daniil Simkin. He is an amazing dancer.
Steven McRay, ohhhhh he is beautiful. Australian born; from the racetrack to dance. He’s incredible.
Ivan Vasiliev.
Roberto Bolle.
Carlos Acosta; he’s Cuban and I met him when he was in Australia.
Sergei Polunin.
And there are so many more. They’re all amazing. I could be here all day.

I got to meet Daniil Simkin when he came here to Brisbane. That was wow! He is an amazing dancer and such a nice person. He came out of Russia where his father Dmitrij Simkin trained him from a very young age. He was performing at the ABT (American Ballet Theatre) and when we went to watch I couldn’t stop looking at him the whole show. We went down to the back of the theatre afterwards to see if we could meet him. A lot of the dancers were coming out of the green room so we waited. We were standing there for ages but he didn’t come. Everyone else had left and I was like no, I’m not leaving till I see him. Finally he walked out. I just walked over to him and hugged him. I couldn’t not.

I don’t know where to from here. I think because I’m still so young I just need to keep training and keep building. I always have thought about teaching dance, and I’ve actually considered setting up a ballet school – a school just for boys. I know how hard it is for them in the early years in a female dominated profession. I have definitely considered and looked into what goes into running a dance school and it’s something I’m prepared to invest in. I don’t ever want to see the art dying, especially in Australia.

If I had one piece of advise it would be to all the boys out there; just push through, we need you. There will be some people that don’t realise that what you are doing is bloody amazing, but know that you’re physically and mentally up there with any other athlete!

So yeah, my message, especially to the boys – don’t give up.”

Thank you Eden.