Huge leap to success
TAKE a boy who lives in the country with a burning passion to dance. As he slips on his ballet shoes, his classmates strap on football boots or basketball shoes.
With the guidance of a few teachers and the support of a proud, loving family, he leaves town for the city to study at a prestigious ballet company.
Reads like the script of Hollywood blockbuster Billy Elliot, doesn't it? But the star of this story is local lad 15-year-old Jordan McCarthy and the company is the Queensland National Ballet.
The commitment, the sacrifices, the early mornings, late nights and deep pockets needed to pursue the dance dream has been a family affair.
Jordan's mother, Lisa, has known since he was a toddler that dance would be an important part of Jordan's life.
"Even when he was in kindergarten, his teachers would comment that he'd be on the stage one day,” Lisa said.
At a young age, Jordan and his older brother Jacob started taekwondo classes. While Jacob went on to become a 2nd Dan, Jordan soon swapped the kicks of marital arts for the jumps of classical ballet and has never looked back.
Jordan studied locally at the Young Actors Studio, Julie Ross Dance Studio and the Harbour Arts Performing Arts Studio.
"Belinda at the Young Actors Studio first saw his dance potential and later Terri and Francesca at HPA both nurtured him with ballet training,” Lisa said.
"We were being told he was a good dancer but were worried we were looking at him through the rose-coloured glasses of proud parents.”
Taking on board what the teachers had said, and concerned about the lack of male influence for local male ballet students, Lisa looked beyond the Coffs Coast.
"When he was 12, I took him to Queensland for a ballet workshop. They identified his potential straight away. We then had to decide - Jordan could stay in Coffs or move and follow his dream. He was so hungry for more we had to try, although we waited a bit because he was so young.”
Accepted to study his Certificate of Dance with the Queensland National Ballet, Jordan moved north. Away from his family, it's his 100% commitment and love for his art that motivates and sustains him.
"We found a fantastic host family who really look after and nurture him.
"He has long days - dance classes at 7am, after that it's his distance education and then back dancing until quite often around 7pm. He studies ballet, solos, contemporary and modern dance, as well as all the usual high school subjects.”
Jordan has a few days off from his rigorous routine and is coming home.
"It will be the best Mother's Day ever.”