Arts / ‘Crazy’ Drew’s flying leap

Dancer Drew Hedditch in the Australian Ballet's "Nijinsky". Photo by Kate Longley

Dancer Drew Hedditch in the Australian Ballet’s “Nijinsky”. Photo by Kate Longley

ONE of Canberra’s quieter achievers is about to take a flying leap into the international world of ballet.

Drew Hedditch, 22, who recently drew rave reviews playing the role of Stanislav Nijinsky for the Australian Ballet’s “Nijinsky” production at the Sydney Opera House, was busy finishing a pre-Christmas production of “Coppelia” when “CityNews” caught up with him before taking off on a 30-day whirlwind tour of the great ballet houses of the world.

He’s well and truly ready for the Kelvin Coe Travelling Scholarship, which he was awarded by the Ballet, and although his mum in Isabella Plains is a bit disappointed that he won’t be here for Christmas, he’s been able to reassure her that “because the dance world is very closeknit, everyone tends to help people out, they take you under their wing”.

The planned trip is a logical progression for the young artist who, after training at the Lisa Clark School of Ballet in the ACT, took off at age 16 for the Australian Ballet School, became a finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod Ballet Scholarship in 2010, went on to graduate from the school in 2014 then immediately took up a contract with the flagship national ballet company.

Fast-maturing as a dancer, he has made a name for himself for his gripping characterisations. “Hedditch’s performance as the troubled Stanislav Nijinsky is nothing short of riveting. He quivers and shakes and crawls along the ground… with Hedditch the instability seems so heartbreakingly innocent and sad,” one reviewer wrote.

Nonetheless, when we talk to him he’s enjoying the fun of “Coppelia,” saying: “It’s nice for us to be able to put a smile on our faces”.

He says the Kelvin Coe scholarship is a hundred per cent beneficial, but it’s made him independent, as he had to plan it by himself. He considers himself lucky to have been taken to an international dance meet in Toronto where he met fellow dancers from 18 countries and picked up a lot of tips that ultimately helped in this planning.

“My aim is to go overseas and broaden my horizons to take classes, to see performances and to get an insight on what goes on around the dance world. We are really so fortunate to have that opportunity as we are so far away.”

First up is a stint at the Royal Ballet with some classes and a couple of appearances. Then it’s off to the Paris Opera and Ballet for more of the same, followed by the Berlin Ballet. In Amsterdam at Het Nationale Ballet he’ll have more classes, likewise at the Royal Danish Ballet.

Things, he predicts, will really hot up when he arrives at the Hamburg Ballet, whose artistic director John Neumeier choreographed the Nijinsky ballet in which he recently performed.

“It’ll be really interesting to see how that compares to ours,” he says.

Hedditch does not slacken from this point with visits to the Vienna and Munich State Operas and a flying visit to Moscow to catch a glimpse of the Bolshoi before finishing up at the New York City Ballet, with a few classes on the side at the American Ballet Theatre, returning to Australia on January 21.

“People are saying I’m crazy, but why not? I’m young and I can do it,” Hedditch asserts.


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