Teen keeps heritage moving
SELF-taught indigenous dancer Rhys De La Cruz has returned home to Gympie after his first six months studying at the National Aboriginal and Islander Dance Academy in Gosford.
The ex-Gympie High student returned to his former school this week to be involved in a flag-raising ceremony to help reconciliation.
Rhys said he owed a lot to the school after deputy principal Glenys Chatman and dance teacher Helen McFadsen guided the young hip hop dancer to audition for the prestigious school.
He said the audition process was one of the scariest things he had ever done.
“It was very scary. So intimidating.”
For his audition Rhys performed a dance routine he learnt from YouTube on the internet.
“I found a hip hop routine, something cool and practised it every day.”
The routine must have worked because Rhys was one of only 25 dancers accepted into the exclusive school.
He said studying at the academy is hard work but the ballet, jazz and contemporary dancing he learnt at Gympie High had been a big help.
“It is pretty stressful but I will get over it,” Rhys said.
“It is hard work every day.”
Rhys’ day starts at 8.15am with a warm up in the dance studio and finishes at 4 or 5pm.
Most of day is dancing and Rhys said it can be very tiring.
Thursdays Rhys and the other dancers spend the day in the gym improving core strength.
Along with hip hop, contemporary, jazz and ballet styles, Rhys learns traditional dancing from Saibai Island in North Queensland and Nyni Kay in the Northern Territory.
“We do cultural studies and philosophy – it is about keeping our culture alive,” he said.
Give the 18-year-old a couple more years practise and he reckons he might be ready to enter Network Ten’s dancing show So You Think You Can Dance.
“I’m not ready to be a professional dancer – I just want to show my mates that I’m cool,” he laughed.
Mr Chatman called Rhys an inspiration for students.
“He is a real role model.” the deputy principal said.
The young dancer will perform at today’s NAIDOC celebrations at Nelson Reserve.