James McDonell was barely a teenager when he started making the daily trek from his farming home in Riddells Creek to Southbank in Melbourne to attend a prestigious Melbourne ballet school.
Now, the 20-year-old is part of the Australian Ballet School’s regional touring group, taking the troupe’s magical Swan Lake Variations around the country, maybe inspiring little boys from rural areas, like he once was, to dance.
“It’s very exciting, to be able to show what I’ve been working for since I was nine years old,” McDonell said.
“It’s a dream to be able to perform, maybe even to inspire younger people who may have the same dream as me.
“Hopefully that can push them to say, ‘Hey, I will be able to achieve that too’.”
The tour, choreographed by David McAllister, will make its way through Launceston, Hobart, Mildura, Bendigo, Broken Hill, Alice Springs and Darwin, the dazzling program paying tribute to the enchanting music of Russian composer, Tchaikovsky.
The gala will showcase a range of classic works, including Swan Lake and La Bayadère, as well as contemporary pieces.
From his 4.50am starts and late finishes as a teen to his current rigorous training program with the ballet school, he said the support he received from his parents has made his life what it is.
“They are my biggest supports, they’ve pushed me and always been there for me for whatever I needed and wanted,” he said.
“I couldn’t ask for any better parents, really.”