When Luke started dancing at age four, he grew up believing the misconception that ballet was only for girls. It wasn’t until his local studio teacher recommended he try a class that everything changed.
“I wish I could tell my younger self that ballet being only for girls is absolutely not true, but I didn’t know any better, so initially ballet didn’t interest me at all,” he admits.
“I started ballet classes by holding onto chairs to do barre,” he says. “The next year, I moved schools and they insisted I take ballet for foundation. Something changed in me and I really started to enjoy it.”
While his passion for ballet grew, Luke wouldn’t have any male role models or peers in ballet until he was older.
“I remember asking my teacher when I’d be able to start pointe work – I thought it looked so fun to wear the special shoes and dance on your toes! I was disappointed to find out that only girls dance en pointe,” he laughs.
“However, my teacher saw potential in me and encouraged me to audition for the Victorian College of Arts Secondary School (VCASS). I worked hard in the audition but it was so daunting – I had never seen so many boys before who did what I was doing,” he says.
Suddenly, Luke was thrown into an environment where his entire cohort shared in his passion. He was at VCASS from Year 7 – 12 and eventually settled on ballet as his career path.
“I actually started becoming more interested in acrobatics and thought I wanted to be a Cirque du Soleil performer. I changed my mind when I saw my first ballet, Manon in Year 9. I had been to musicals before and had fun, but admittedly I thought I might be bored watching a ballet,” he explains.
“I ended up enjoying the performance so much that it became a turning point for me. From there, I began trying harder, applying myself more. By the time I got into Year 12 I was one of the only students in my class who wanted to pursue ballet as a career,” he says.
Upon completion of high school, Luke was accepted into Queensland Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional Program (PPP). He moved to Queensland and started training on his 18th birthday.
“I started out as the only student in my class who wanted to do ballet, and then landed in PPP where everyone was really good at it and working so hard to get a place in the Company at the end – it was a huge reality check for me,” he says.
“Despite the challenge, I loved that year. I was so lucky to receive the attention I needed from my teachers, and the cohort pushed each other to work hard with healthy competition,” he reflects.
After finishing his PPP year, Luke was offered a Jette Parker Young Artist contract before being accepted as a Company Artist at Queensland Ballet in 2019.
“Having had so many opportunities during PPP made me realise how much I love performing on stage to live orchestra music to audiences. That’s my favourite part about this job, and it brings me so much joy,” he beams.
“The highlight of the past year for me has been performing in a triple bill season called The Masters Series and the work I performed in was Jiří Kylián’s Soldier’s Mass. I loved the style of the piece and was only third cast as the soloist, but had the opportunity to perform the role twice which was really exciting,” he recalls.
“Although the piece was extremely tiring, the adrenaline of being given such an opportunity to perform a solo on stage in my first year as a Company member lifted me through that.”
Looking back, Luke has some advice to share for young, male dancers looking at their future:
“Go watch performances and look at everything. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like a particular genre – just see it first and find out which path you want to go down instead,” he says. “I didn’t do ballet for many years because I didn’t know any better, thinking it was only for girls. There’s a whole world of amazing male ballet dancers that I opened my eyes to. If you’re interested in the arts, watch everything and see what you like!”
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Images: David Kelly & Edward Pope